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Coronavirus

Fabian Way Covid testing unit relocates to Margam

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The health board’s Fabian Way drive-through Covid testing unit has moved to a new home in Port Talbot.

The unit carried out around 94,000 tests, since being set up last July, but has now relocated to Longlands Lane, in Margam, to allow the Fabian Way Park and Ride site to return to full use as Covid restrictions are eased.

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Simone Manning, Swansea Bay’s Operational Lead of Covid Testing, said: “We have taken somewhere in the region of 94,000 drive-through tests here at Fabian Way since last year.

“We would like to say a very big thank you to Swansea Council, they have been absolutely fantastic in supporting and accommodating us.”

The new Margam site should be familiar to many as it hosted a Covid testing centre earlier in the pandemic.

Simone said: “The site has previously been used at the beginning of the pandemic for the purpose of testing and continues to be of excellent value to the public in the Swansea Bay and Neath Port Talbot areas, including facilitating school nursing vaccinations during recent months.”

As with previous health board testing venues it is essential that members of the public book a test in advance and do not just turn up.

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“Only pre-booked appointments will be accepted, we will not be able to accommodate anyone without an appointment. If they do they will be asked to book and come back when they have an appointment.”

Although it was a relatively short stay, the Fabian Way site has played an important part in shaping the health board’s Covid response programme.

Simone said: “The effects of the pandemic can never be underestimated, and the community of Swansea Bay has rallied throughout. Fabian Way has also been a safe place for health care, administrative hospital staff to train and develop their skills and they have all gone on to help those in need.

“All the staff have played a key role and we would like to thank them for their professionalism, true resilience and their efforts during a very challenging time.”

The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Councillor Ted Latham, said that they were proud to continue to collaborate with the health board having previously provided The Orangery in Margam Park for use as a Covid mass vaccination centre.

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He said: “We were proud of the role Margam Orangery previously played in helping deliver 150,000 vaccines and I’d like to thank the professionalism, dedication and hard work of those involved in that project.

“Now it is no longer being used for vaccinations we are looking forward to the Orangery receiving visitors and hosting events once again. We are happy to be working closely with the health board and Swansea Council to help facilitate Covid testing across the Swansea Bay region with the reopening of the testing centre at Longlands Lane in Margam.”

The Leader of Swansea Council, Rob Stewart, said there had been a great partnership between both councils and the health board throughout the pandemic to keep people in the Swansea Bay area safe.

He added: “I’m proud of the work we’ve been done together including establishing the drive-through testing centre at the park and ride site at Fabian Way.

“It has clearly been a success and has played an important role in keeping people in the region safe and helping to protect the NHS.

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“Other testing facilities will continue in Swansea and although cases are falling coronavirus has not gone away.”

The drive-through testing unit is not a drop in unit and testing is by appointment only, anyone without a booking cannot be accommodated.

To book an appointment call the Swansea Bay booking line on 01639 862757 between 9am and 8pm or visit http://www.gov.co.uk

Lead image: From Left to right Ebony Love (health care worker), Sidu lngry (health care worker), Stuart Lloyd (operational site manager), Tanisha James (team leader), Gareth Rees (surveyor), Katherine Matthews (health care support worker), Ashley Taylor (contracts manager) (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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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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