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Coronavirus

Get vaccinated in time for Christmas, health chiefs urge

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People who’ve not yet had their first Covid-19 vaccination are being urged to get the jab now to get ready for the countdown to Christmas season.

Many of the festivities for last Christmas had to be cancelled due to the virus, and this year people who aren’t double-vaccinated by the time the season starts in November run the risk of missing out.

Dr Keith Reid, Executive Director of Public Health in Swansea Bay, said that while 70% of young adults in the area have had their first jab, he urged the others to get their vaccination now.

He said: “Much of the festive season in 2020 was a washout due to the necessary restrictions to keep people safe and protect the NHS. This year it’s looking likely that pubs and nightclubs will be operating in a more traditional way.

“But the number of people getting the virus in Swansea Bay now is soaring. It shows that the virus is still with us and we all need to play our part in preventing the spread.

“Those who are eligible and haven’t had their first jab need to get their skates on because there’s a minimum eight weeks between the first and the second dose, plus a couple of weeks after the second dose to allow it to work.

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“So if you don’t have the first one soon you might not be double-jabbed in time for the big nights out in the Christmas countdown.

“It’s easy to get vaccinated, it doesn’t take long and it helps keeps us and our loved ones safe.”

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Swansea Bay University Health Board have set up drop-in sessions at locations around the area so people can just turn up and have the jab.

Double-vaccination has been shown to be one of the best defences against the spread of the virus. Evidence has shown that people who have been double-vaccinated are less likely to get the virus if they come into contact with someone who’s got Covid-19 and if they do, the effect on their health is less damaging.

Another advantage of being double-vaccinated currently is that you no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days if you’re identified as being a close contact of someone who’s tested positive for the virus and don’t show Covid-19 symptoms.

Dr Reid said: “If you’re planning to be the life and soul of Christmas socialising and making up for last year’s lost clubbing-time then get your first jab now so you can be double-vaccinated in time for the party season.

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“Double-vaccination is also among the best ways people can protect themselves, their families and their relatives from the virus at Christmas.

“Last year people weren’t able to do many of the traditional things like big family get-togethers because the risks were so great.

“This year don’t run the risk of having to self-isolate at Christmas-time to protect your family. Instead, minimise the chances of that happening by being double-jabbed.”

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Cllr Leanne Jones, deputy leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said: “Being vaccinated is one of the most effective things any of us can do to keep ourselves safe, our families safe and protect our NHS.

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“The fact is that the virus has not gone away. We still need to carry on doing the right things like keeping our distance from others where we can and wear masks in shops and on public transport.”

David Hopkins, joint deputy Leader of Swansea Council, added: “Over the last 18 months so many people have done such an amazing job keeping our communities safe.

“All of us have had to adjust to new ways of doing things. Thanks to the effort of our communities supported by health, social care and so many others, great progress has been made. Being double-jabbed is just one of the simplest things to do to keep us all heading in the right direction.”

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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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Coronavirus

Health board extends shuttle bus between Llanelli and COVID vaccination centre

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Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) has extended the free shuttle bus service between Llanelli town centre and the mass vaccination centre in Dafen to help people access their COVID-19 vaccination as easily as possible.

The shuttle bus, provided by Dolen Teifi, will continue to run between 10.30am to 4.40pm, seven days a week – with no service at 12.00pm from town or at 12.15pm from the mass vaccination centre to allow the drivers a lunch break.

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People can board the shuttle bus on the hour and at half-past the hour at Church Street, outside Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The shuttle bus will leave the mass vaccination centre quarter past and quarter to the hour, returning to the town centre and dropping passengers off opposite Llanelli library.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We need as many people as possible attending their COVID-19 vaccine appointments, or dropping in if eligible.

“This shuttle bus service is one of many additional resources and services being put in place across the Hywel Dda region to help support more people to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. I am pleased the shuttle bus service has been extended to help people reliant on public transport to access their COVID-19 vaccine.”

On 21 February 2022, the JCVI published a statement, recommending an additional spring booster.

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Strict COVID-19 safety measures are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers on this service, including wearing face coverings unless medically exempt.

A maximum of 14 passengers are allowed per journey with a screen in place between driver and passengers.

The health board say that passengers should only use this service if they are fit and well on the day.

They add that before travelling without an appointment to Dafen mass vaccination centre, people should check the health board’s website for up-to-date information such as vaccine eligibility and drop-in opening times.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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