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Coronavirus

Call to co-operate with contact tracers after illegal Derwen Fawr party

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Party-goers at an illegal gathering at a house in the west of Swansea have been criticised for misleading contact tracers and putting the wider community at risk.

At least six people who attended the party in the Derwen Fawr area earlier this month have tested positive for Covid-19 and a further 13 contacts are undergoing tests.

Now public health officials are urging people to behave responsibly and not organise or attend large gatherings indoors or outdoors, and to co-operate fully if contact tracers get in touch.

The call comes after the incident in which efforts to track down everyone connected to the party were thwarted by some revellers claiming they were not in Swansea at the time and that the party took place elsewhere.

The occupiers of the house where the gathering took place also denied at first that it had happened.

It was evidence gathered by Swansea Council environmental health workers that finally uncovered the circumstances, resulting in admissions that a party had taken place on April 10th.

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The close timing of four positive Covid-19 cases – two men and two women – had raised suspicions of an indoor gathering. But efforts by Swansea Test Trace Protect contact tracers to find out more were frustrated by the misleading information they were given.

Swansea Council environmental health officials, in partnership with South Wales Police, then investigated and were able to uncover evidence enabling tracers to get on with the vital job of tracking attendees and their contacts.

Dr Keith Reid, Swansea Bay health Board’s Director of Public Health (Image: Swansea Bay UHB)

Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid said today: “The misleading information provided by some people in this case had a detrimental effect on both the speed of the investigation, and the tracers’ ability to identify exact routes of transmission and protect the public.

“This caused the potential for further spread within the community and placed the wider community at risk.

“We’re currently aware of six positive cases, and at least 13 contacts with connections to the gathering at the Swansea address. We are continuing to monitor the situation for further cases.”

He added: “We know that the vast majority of people respect the rules. They understand they are there to safeguard public health, and do their best to abide by them. I sincerely thank them for their responsible attitude, and for the sacrifices they have made over the past year to ensure we all get back to normal as quickly as we can.

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“But the behaviour demonstrated by the individuals in this case is extremely disappointing. Not only did their decision to hold a party put others at risk, but they made matters worse by then misleading contact tracers.

“That it needed a concerted investigation by officials to get to the bottom of it is shocking.”

The party follows earlier reports of indoor social gatherings in the Clase and Briton Ferry areas, which led to a chain of Covid-19 infections.

Although infection rates in Swansea are improving overall, the city remains top of the league table in Wales for confirmed cases.

Dr Reid added: “We haven’t beaten Coronavirus yet, and we can’t afford to take unnecessary risks. Covid loves familiarity and spreads much more easily indoors.

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“It is very important that people continue to follow the rules, and remember to still wash their hands, wear face-coverings in indoor public places and keep two-metres distance from people they don’t live with.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)


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Coronavirus

New COVID vaccination centre opens at Aberavon Shopping Centre

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A new COVID vaccination centre for Port Talbot is opening at Aberavon Shopping Centre.

Situated next door to B&M, near the river bridge entrance, Swansea Bay Health Board say it will provide vaccinations to adults and children alike.

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The first clinic will be held at the Local Vaccination Centre (LVC) on Thursday, May 26th. Slots will be available by appointment only for the time being.

The health board are asking people not to telephone the shopping centre if they want to make an appointment or if they have a general query. The health board’s booking centre can be contacted on 01792 200492 or 01639 862323.

The opening comes as the health board winds down its vaccination operation at the Bay Field Hospital near Amazon, off Fabian Way, which has been open since the first Covid vaccine was rolled out to health and social care staff in December 2020.

The final Covid vaccination clinic will be held at the Bay Mass Vaccination Centre on Wednesday, June 1st.

Blood tests will continue on that site for the time being.

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Covid vaccination clinics will also continue to be scheduled at Canolfan Gorseinon Centre, in the health board’s container in the car park of Morrisons supermarket on Baglan Industrial Park and on the Immbulance mobile vaccination clinic, which stops at various venues across the Swansea Bay area.

Interim Head of Transformation, James Ruggiero, said the move to the shopping centre signals a wider change in the Covid vaccination programme.

“The Bay has been absolutely brilliant for us but thankfully, we no longer need a permanent venue of that size.

“While no one can predict exactly what will happen in the future, we do know that some people, particularly those who are vulnerable, will need Covid boosters to help maintain a level of protection against the coronavirus, which is still out there.

“This new venue is perfect for that and a bonus is that being smaller and less intimidating, it can also be used to host clinics for children aged five to 11.”

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Vaccination staff Owain Williams, Samantha Minards, Rebecca Maus, Mathew Davies and Geraint Hammond, inside the new vaccination centre at Aberafan Shopping Centre (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Mr Ruggiero added: “Our teams have worked hard to set up this new convenient unit and to make it as comfortable and efficient as possible.

“We hope the public welcome it and enjoy popping to the other shops to pick up a bargain once they’ve come in for their vaccination.”

The Aberafan Shopping Centre LVC will be open between 9.30am and 4.30pm. Vaccinations are on an appointment-only basis for now.

The first vaccinations will be for the spring booster which, in line with JCVI guidance, is being given to those aged 75 and over, older care home residents and those aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed.

The health board will shortly be announcing clinic dates for those aged five to 11 in June.

A Covid booster programme is due to run in the autumn, with interim JCVI advice saying that Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults; Frontline health and social care workers; All those 65 years of age and over; and adults aged 16 to 65 years in a clinical risk group should each receive one dose.

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(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Coronavirus

Face coverings retained in health and social care settings

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will remain in place.

Speaking after the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister said the public health situation was improving following the recent spike in cases caused by the BA.2 sub-type of omicron.

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But Covid case rates remain high so maintaining the use of face coverings in health and care settings will help to protect to some of the most vulnerable people in society, staff and visitors.

The First Minister also urged everyone to continue to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus by following a set of simple steps to protect one another and keep Wales safe.

These include self-isolating if ill or testing positive for Covid-19; wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places, meeting outdoors wherever possible; keeping indoor areas well ventilated and washing hands regularly.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The pandemic isn’t over but we are seeing encouraging signs the recent high levels of infections across Wales are falling.

“There are steps we can all take to protect ourselves while coronavirus is still circulating and reduce the spread of the virus even further. This is particularly true in places where some of the most vulnerable people in society are being treated and live, which is why we will retain the legal requirement to wear face coverings in health and social care settings.

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“More generally, ensuring you are up-to-date with your Covid vaccinations and spring booster – if you are eligible – is really important. If you have Covid symptoms or test positive, please stay at home and help break the chain of transmission.

“Together, we can carry on keeping each other safe and keeping Wales safe.”

The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 26 May.

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Coronavirus

Schools’ Covid guidance aligned to businesses and other workplaces

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced that Covid-19 measures for schools in Wales will be brought into line with guidance for businesses and other organisations.

The Welsh Government has written to schools in Wales this morning to inform them of the changes.

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Since September last year, schools have applied measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus according to local circumstances, based on the Local Covid-19 infection control decision framework for schools. Schools will no longer be advised to use the framework.

The change is in line with the Welsh Government’s long-term Covid-19 transition from pandemic to endemic. The risk from coronavirus is now considered in the same context as other communicable diseases, such as flu.

The First Minister has announced that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will be removed from 9 May, if the public health situation remained stable. The changes to the guidance for schools will also come into effect from 9 May.

Schools and other education settings will continue to be advised to work with local authorities and public health advisors to ensure that measures remain appropriate and proportionate and reflect local risks and circumstances.

A checklist will be provided to support schools and settings in considering which control measures remain proportionate. Special schools will continue to follow the advice for children and young people with higher clinical risk and clinically extremely vulnerable adults.

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Speaking at the Welsh Government’s weekly press briefing, Jeremy Miles said: “In line with the wider public health guidance published at the last three-week review, we have today written to headteachers to signpost the impending changes to our advice for schools, which reflect the move from pandemic to endemic. This will ensure school guidance is more closely aligned with the rest of society.

“We all know that Covid-19 has not gone way. It remains vitally important we reduce the spread of the virus where we can – this includes, for example, following self-isolation guidance, and for education settings to continue to undertake robust risk assessments.”

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