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Coronavirus

Rise in number of children with Covid-19 admitted to hospital in Swansea Bay

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Almost as many children aged 15 and under have been in hospital with Covid-19 in Swansea Bay over the last three months than the whole of the rest of the pandemic.

So far 93 children in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have been ill enough to need inpatient treatment for Covid-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020. But almost half of those, 45, have been admitted this July, August and up to 24th September.

The increase in paediatric admissions mirrors a steep rise in Covid-19 community infection rates in comprehensive school age children in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, currently running at one in 50 under-18s.

“These cases demonstrate that children are not invulnerable to Covid-19, and can and do become ill from it,” said Swansea Bay Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid.

“While children are much less likely than older adults to get seriously ill with Covid, it is noticeable and worrying that there is currently a spike in paediatric admissions.

“However this is not surprising given that there has been such a big rise overall in the numbers of comprehensive school age children getting Covid in our region. Unfortunately, there is also an increase in younger primary age children now testing positive as well.

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“Swansea Bay currently has some of the highest overall Covid-19 infection rates in the UK, and younger people – particularly under-18s – are now by far the biggest single group of confirmed infections.”

Infection rates in school age children are now 3 to 4 times higher than any other age group, with around 500 youngsters infected in the last week alone

Swansea Bay is starting vaccinating 12-15 year-olds on Monday, 4th October. Letters are being sent to homes with appointments at mass vaccination centres in Swansea and Margam. The health board say that the aim is to have offered all young people in this age group an appointment letter by 1st November.

How many people have been in hospital with Covid in Swansea Bay?

In total, by 24th September, 3,237 people with Covid have been inpatients in Swansea Bay hospitals.

During the first peak, March and April 2020, there were 404 individual Covid patients in our beds. In the next peak, December 2020 and January 2021, there were 1099. In the latest peak, this August and up to 24th September, we have treated 371 Covid-positive inpatients.

Swansea Bay currently has 65 confirmed Covid-19 cases in our hospitals, with nine people receiving critical care. This daily figure is relatively steady, and has been holding in the mid-60s for a couple of weeks. (These are not necessarily the same patients, as new patients are admitted, discharged, and sadly, some have died.)

Proportion of younger/older inpatients

The proportion of younger Covid-19 inpatients has risen dramatically during this current peak, compared with the two earlier peaks in the pandemic.

This is in line with vaccinations across different age groups, with more older adults double-vaccinated compared to younger ones.

In the first two peaks of the pandemic – March/April 2020, and December 2020/January 2021 – around 3%-4% of Swansea Bay inpatient cases were aged 16-29.

But now, in August and September, the proportion of younger adults has quadrupled, making up between 13.7% -18.6% of cases on our wards.

By contrast, older adults, aged 50+ accounted for more than eight out of 10 Covid-19 inpatient cases in the first two peaks. Now, that proportion as dropped to around half.
It isn’t just the proportion of older people which has gone down. The overall numbers of over-50s on our wards have also fallen from of 341 in March/April 2020; 895 in Dec/Jan, to 213 in August/September.

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Figures show the vaccines work

“People are still being admitted with Covid-19, and some of them have been vaccinated. But that does not mean the vaccine isn’t working,” said Dr Reid.

“On the contrary. Community infection rates in Swansea Bay are now as high as they were in the highest peak in December and January, but inpatient rates are about a third of what they were then. And of the people admitted, fewer need critical care.

“The difference in the proportion of younger and older inpatients in our hospitals since the vaccination programme began also demonstrates the protection the vaccine offers.

“The vaccination is not guaranteed to stop you getting Covid, but if you do, you are likely to get less sick. This is because the vaccine has already trained your immune system to fight the virus. These real-life statistics bear this out.”

Dr Reid urged anyone who has not yet taken up the offer of a Covid-19 vaccination to reconsider. While no vaccine was 100% effective, it was one of the biggest tools in the fight against Covid-19, he said.

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“It’s not too late to get your vaccinations, please make an appointment to safeguard yourself and others.”

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Coronavirus

Calls intensify for First Minister to announce Wales specific Covid-19 enquiry

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Welsh Conservatives have repeated the call for a Wales-specific Covid-19 inquiry.

On behalf of the Senedd Conservatives, Paul Davies MS challenged the First Minister over his refusal to hold a Welsh specific inquiry and denying victims’ families the answers they deserve.

The questioning from the Welsh Conservatives follows a tweet from Mark Drakeford which provoked an emotive response from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice-Cymru group.

Following a summit yesterday between the British Prime Minister and leaders of the devolved administrations, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted:

Later, the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice-Cymru tweeted:

Taking up the issue on behalf of the families in the Senedd, Mr Davies said: “There is no reason why the Welsh Government can’t take part in a UK-wide inquiry and a Welsh inquiry. An open and transparent Government must be accountable to the people it serves, and the people of Wales deserve answers.

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 “An open and transparent Government must be accountable to the people it serves, and the people of Wales deserve answers. ‘Responsible, but not held responsible’ seems to be the mantra of this Welsh Labour Government. Now, organisations like the bereaved families group, Medics 4 Mask Up Wales and the British Lung Foundation have all joined calls for a Welsh inquiry.

 “It’s time for your government to do the right thing and commit to that inquiry. A Welsh inquiry is a necessary part in helping the country understand how decisions were made and whether lessons have indeed been learnt.”

Speaking outside the chamber, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Economy, Paul Davies MS said:“Welsh Conservatives have always said a Wales-specific inquiry, alongside a UK investigation, is essential in delivering justice for those affected by coronavirus and lockdowns.

“Throughout the pandemic we were told that different decisions would be taken in Wales to meet our specific circumstances, and now we need a specific public inquiry to scrutinise these decisions.

“Sadly, Wales has the highest Covid death rate in the UK and over 8,000 people have tragically died during the pandemic, a quarter of whom acquired the infection in hospital.

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“The grieving families deserve answers, and full, independent scrutiny of the decisions taken by Labour ministers and Wales should get the transparency, accountability, and scrutiny that every democracy needs to thrive.

“Regrettably, responsible but not held responsible seems to be the mantra of this Labour administration.”

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Coronavirus

Health board using converted shipping containers as ‘local vaccination centres’

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Swansea Bay University Health Board say they are making it easier for older people to get their Covid-19 booster vaccinations with the use of converted shipping containers.

Three containers, known as Local Vaccination Centres (LVCs), have been located in communities across the Swansea Bay area for those who may find it difficult to get to a mass vaccination centre.

The containers build on the success and experience of the Immbulance, the health board’s mobile vaccination unit.

And they are able to free up the Immbulance to be deployed to cover new areas.

The units can be located in one place for several days and include staff facilities, which means they can stay there longer and don’t have to be driven away each night and be brought back the following morning.

Staff are providing Covid booster vaccinations for those with an appointment only and aim to deliver 60 jabs every day.

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People can then wait the usual 15-minutes after a vaccination either in their cars or in the container itself.

One of the units has been placed in Seven Sisters Rugby Club car park to serve those in the Dulais Valley and neighbouring communities.

Another of the LVCs has been placed near the Guildhall in Swansea, which has proven to be a popular location for the Immbulance.

James Ruggiero, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Assistant Head of Operational Planning for the vaccination programme, said: “This project is part of our ongoing effort to increase access to vaccinations across the Swansea Bay area. 

“These units are helping us in our aim to get as many people vaccinated as possible, particularly those who may have difficulty in travelling to our mass vaccination centres.”

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Lead image: Matthew Armstrong, immuniser; Andrea Howells, clinical supervisor; Ian Worthing, immuniser (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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People with weakened immune systems eligible for third primary Covid-19 vaccine urged to come forward

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People aged 12 and over living in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire with severely weakened immune systems at the time of their first and/or second COVID-19 vaccines are being asked to contact the health board to request a third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The third primary dose is not the same as the booster vaccinations currently being rolled out at mass vaccination centres.

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “If your immune system was severely weakened due to an underlying health condition or medical treatment, you may not have made a good immune response to the first two doses of COVID-19 vaccination.

“A third primary dose of the vaccine will improve your levels of immunity to give you better protection and should be given at least eight weeks after the second dose, but timing will depend on any treatment you may be having. A booster vaccination may also be needed at a later date.

“If you live in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire and believe you are eligible for a third primary vaccine dose but have not been contacted yet, we are asking for you to get in touch with us as soon as possible.”

People eligible for a third primary Covid-19 vaccination dose are urged to complete an online form on the health board’s website.

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Those waiting for a Covid-19 vaccination booster are asked not to contact the health board yet, as they will be sent an invitation to attend a mass vaccination centre.

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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