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News in brief: 50% of parents in Wales back Covid jabs for under-18s

17 Aug 2021 7 minutes Read
Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

Half of parents with children under the age of 18 in Wales want them to receive a coronavirus vaccination, according to the latest public engagement survey released by Public Health Wales.

Earlier this month the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation issued new advice recommending vaccines should be made available to 16 and 17-year-olds after previously ruling out jabs for under 18s, saying they had “minimal health benefits” as Covid “rarely causes severe disease in children without underlying health conditions.”

The survey which was conducted in the week the JCVI advice was changed, recorded that 50% of respondents, wanted their children to be vaccinated, 18% said they didn’t want them to receive the jab and 32% said they were unsure.

Vaccine drives

Several countries in Europe have already launched programmes to vaccinate adolescents as young as 12 and the French government announced last month that it plans to set up vaccine drives at schools and colleges in the autumn.

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is the only vaccine in the UK which has been approved for use in children aged 12 to 17 but the University of Oxford is currently conducting trials of the vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca for use with children.

Other key findings of the survey are:

41% of people say they are completely following all current coronavirus restrictions, while just 2% say they are not following them at all.

32% of respondents agreed most people are following social distancing guidelines – and 32% disagree.

52% of people agreed that the Welsh Government is responding to the problems caused by coronavirus well and 19% strongly agreed, while 10% disagreed and 7% strongly disagreed.

A large majority of people also said they would continue to wear masks (79%), avoid crowded places (70%) sanitise hands regularly (90%) and maintain social distancing (76%) even after all restrictions are lifted.

The latest survey questioned over 600 people and took place between 2-8 August.

Microscopic image of a human cell being attacked by coronaviruses. Photo by sjrankin, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

ONS reports jump in Covid deaths in latest study

The number of deaths in Wales involving Covid-19 increased by almost 70%, according to the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

Over the week ending 6 August the ONS recorded 22 deaths which mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate, and increase from 13 the previous week, accounting 3.5% of all deaths over the seven-day period.

There were 634 deaths reported from all causes, seven fewer than the previous week and 10.8% above the five-year average (62 more deaths).

Since the start of the pandemic in March last year, the ONS has recorded 51,962 death in Wales from all causes and of these, 7,964 deaths (15.3%) mentioned Covid-19 – 5,182 deaths above the five-year average.

According to the latest figures from Public Health Wales, 5,641 people have died due to Covid since March 2020.

The daily figures released by Public Health Wales include the deaths of a hospital patients or care home resident where Covid-19 has been confirmed with a positive laboratory test and the clinician suspects this was a causative factor in the death.

Deaths counted by the ONS are when Covid-19 is mentioned by doctors on the death certificate and which occur in all settings – including hospitals, care homes, hospices and people’s homes.

Meanwhile, today’s figures from Public Health Wales have confirmed no further deaths due to Covid in the last 24 hours and 761 new cases of the virus.

Cardiff (107) Swansea (72) and Newport (62) recorded the highest number of new cases since Monday’s report as the national case rate climbed to 184.3 per 100,000 for the week up to 12 August, 15 points up from yesterday and the highest reported since the week of 18 July.

Denbighshire continues to have the worst case rate out of the 22 Welsh local authorities at 352.2, up from 339.6 yesterday – and the test positivity rate has also risen from 18% to 18.9% per 100,000 tests.

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash.

Children’s charity urges government U-turn on Universal Credit cut

The UK Government’s £20 cut in Universal Credit from October is being described as the most significant social security cut since the Second World War and according to research published by the Child Poverty Action Group will see the disposable income of a third of households with children in Wales reduced by over £1,000 a year.

Westminster introduced the £20 uplift at the start of the pandemic last year but last month confirmed the addition payment would be withdrawn in the autumn.

“The £20 increase is a lifeline for many families living in Wales. Families we work with tell us that they’re relying on it to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children. Without it, many more people will be pushed into poverty,” Melanie Simmonds, Head of Save the Children in Wales said.

“That’s why we’re calling on the UK government to abandon its plans to cut Universal Credit this autumn. Across political divides, a growing number of voices agree that our social security net has got to be strong enough to catch people when they need it most. The role of Welsh Government and local authorities will also be crucial in reducing child poverty to ensure that no child is disadvantaged because of family income.”

New UK-wide research conducted by Save the Children, reveals that almost half (47%) of those on Universal Credit across the UK – equivalent to nearly 3 million claimants – say they don’t think they’ll be able to live on a household budget that’s £20 per week lower and a further 18% say they don’t know if they’ll be able to manage.

Single parents are most concerned about their finances after the reduction, with over half (52%) saying they don’t think they can live on £20 less per week.

Asked about how their household budgets would be impacted:

  • Three in five (61%) of respondents say it will be harder to afford food after the cut.

 

  • Nearly half (48%) say it will be harder to cover essential bills

 

  • More than 2 in 5 (43%) say it will be harder to pay for clothing.

 

  • Nearly 2 in 5 parents (37%) say it will be harder to pay for children’s items like books and toys.

In July Wales TUC warned the planned cuts to Universal Credit would impact ‘tens of thousands’ of working families and accused the UK Government of ‘levelling down’ Wales with 280,000 people made worse off by the cut.

Analysis by the trade union body also suggested that more than a third (37.1 per cent) of those hit in Wales will be working families – many of them key worker households.

The former Sun Alliance House, St Helen’s Road, Swansea, which is to be converted into studios for students. Photo via Google

Developers get green light for new student block

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

A large office building in Swansea will become student accommodation after all, six years after planning permission was first granted.

The distinctive Sun Alliance House, on St Helen’s Road, looked on course to become 78 student studios in 2016 after Swansea Council’s planning committee gave the green light to Hedlunds Property Ltd to transform the building.

But the studios didn’t materialise. The office block’s owners were told at one point in 2017 that they must clear up rubbish which had accumulated outside.

The scheme is back on track after a company called Urban Centric Ltd, which now owns the building, was given approval this month to make some changes to the original scheme.

It wants to start work in September and complete the 78 units in summer 2022.

The approved changes, according to Urban Centric, should improve the development.

The ground floor footprint will increase, but the scheme’s footprint overall will be lower while delivering the same number of studios.

A cinema room and student lounges will also be created, and extra bin provision provided compared to the previous scheme.

A design and access statement on behalf of Urban Centric said: “The physical appearance of the building will therefore remain largely unaltered from that approved and the relationship with neighbouring properties unchanged, and there would be no additional impact on neighbour heritage assets in terms of listed buildings.”

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