News in brief: Conwy residents are urged to get tested as Covid variant cases surge
People in Llandudno Junction, Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay are being urged to get a Covid test following a sharp increase in cases of the Delta variant of concern in recent days.
Yesterday health officials confirmed 35 cases of the variant had been identified in Conwy County over the Bank Holiday weekend after an outbreak was first declared last Friday.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan described the cluster of cases as “very serious” and said it could slow the further lifting of Covid restrictions across Wales.
The weekly case rate in Conwy is the highest in Wales at 22.2 per 100,000 of the population, up from 18.8 yesterday and the positive test proportion is also the highest in the country at 1.9% per 100,000 tests up from 1.7% yesterday.
A total of 97 cases of the variant first identified in India in April have now been detected across Wales, an increase of 39 in the last two days.
The Delta variant is the dominant Covid mutation in the UK after a surge in cases across England and Scotland and early research suggests it is up to 50% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant, which originated in Kent last summer.
Early studies also suggest vaccines are less effective against the variant, especially in people that have received just one jab.
“This is a fast-moving situation. Please be vigilant for the symptoms of Coronavirus, and get a test now,” Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, and Chair of the multi-agency Incident Management Team, said.
”The emergence of so many new cases of this transmissible new variant of Coronavirus in the Llandudno Junction, Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay areas is a reminder that we should not become complacent, even as rates of the virus across Wales remain low.
“Speed is of the essence. The sooner we act, the better, so please, come forward for testing as soon as you can. The more people with symptoms who come forward, the more cases we will find.”
Public Health Wales, Conwy County Borough Council and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are asking people living in the affected areas to be alert for Coronavirus symptoms and to take a test as soon as possible even if they have no symptoms.
For residents without symptoms – lateral flow tests are available for collection from the Mobile Test Unit at Ysgol Awel y Mynydd Sarn Mynach, Llandudno Junction, Conwy, LL31 9RZ.
This is a walk in/drive through centre, no appointment is necessary and is open from 8am – 1pm and 2pm – 8pm every day.
People with symptoms are advised to go to Conwy Business Centre, Junction Way, Llandudno Junction, LL31 9XX for a PCR test. This is also a walk in/drive through centre, no appointment is necessary and is also open from 8am – 1pm 2pm – 8pm.
Meanwhile, today’s update from PHW confirms no further deaths due to Covid-19 and 49 new positive tests for the virus.
Five local authorities saw no new cases in the past 24 hours, while Gwynedd had the highest number of new infections with four.
The national case rate is down 0.5 to 7.5 since yesterday’s report and the test rate is unchanged at 0.9%.
£25million invested in new diagnostic equipment for the Welsh NHS
The Welsh Government has announced an investment of more than £25 million for new diagnostic equipment for the NHS.
The funding will upgrade equipment, including MRI and CT scanners to help speed up the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases across Wales.
Swansea Bay University Health Board will receive £5.5 million towards a CT simulator, providing 3D treatment planning for cancer patients; a fluoroscopy room, providing state-of-the art x-ray imaging, at Morriston Hospital and a CZT technology gamma camera upgrade.
The remainder of the funding will provide:
- £2.3 million for a CT scanner and two diagnostic radiology rooms at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, in Ystrad Mynach
- £3.3 million for a gamma camera and interventional radiology suite at Wrexham Maelor Hospital
- £2.1 million for CT simulator replacement at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd
- £3.2 million for fluoroscopy and cath lab at University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff
- £3.1 million for an upgrade of MRI and fluoroscopy room, providing x-ray imaging at the Princess of Wales Hospital, in Bridgend
- £4.5 million for two replacement CT scanners at Glangwilli Hospital, in Carmarthenshire and Withybush Hospital, Pembrokeshire
- £1 million for fluoroscopy x-ray imaging and MRI upgrade at Velindre Cancer Centre, in Cardiff
- £350 thousand for four ultrasound machines at Brecon, Newtown, Llandrindod Wells and Welshpool hospitals
“It’s our priority to support the recovery of the NHS and this is a first step to ensuring the health service has access to sufficient diagnostic capacity to deal with the people waiting as a result of the pandemic,” Health Minister Eluned Morgan said.
Latest figures from the government have revealed more than 500,000 people are currently waiting for treatment on the Welsh NHS, a rise of just under 25% since the Covid pandemic struck in March last year.
Voter registration opens for second Welsh Youth Parliament
Young people across Wales are being encouraged to get involved with the Welsh Youth Parliament by registering to vote in the 2021 Elections in November.
The registration process opened today on the Welsh Youth Parliament website and will remain open until 12 November.
The online election in November will choose 40 Members to represent all regions of Wales in the second Youth Parliament.
Twenty additional Members will be put forward by partner organisations to ensure a diverse representation in the body.
The application process for interested partner organisations is also now open, with organisations and charities invited to apply to work with the Youth Parliament and to have a representative among the 60 Members.
“The first Welsh Youth Parliament showed us how passionate young people are about the issues which matter to them and their communities. Their voices need to be heard now more than ever,” Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS, said.
“I encourage young people across Wales to get involved, to register to vote and be part of the conversation about the topics that should be prioritised by the next Youth Parliament. Your voice is powerful and your views are important to us all.”
Council considers plans to relocate museum
Emily Gill, local democracy reporter
Monmouth Museum could be relocated to Shire Hall as part of a project, which could cost around £2.6 million.
A decision will be made next week on whether to close Monmouth Museum in Market Hall and to reopen areas of Shire Hall for public use. Both buildings have been closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
A report on the proposed plans says it would be “impracticable” for Monmouth Museum to reopen in Market Hall given the “tasks required to prepare for a move”.
It says: “It is therefore proposed that key areas of Shire Hall will reopen for public use, subject to any temporary opening or access restrictions required to allow the completion of the phase one provision incorporating the temporary museum displays.”
The report proposes a phased approach to the plan, which would see part of Shire Hall, incorporate Monmouth Museum.
Learning and community spaces would also be created in the building but this would not impact the Town Council, which resides in Shire Hall.
The report says: “This would allow for a new visitor flow on the ground floor, including creating community exhibition and learning spaces.
“The main displays on the first floor, would use the full room volumes and the circulation spaces.”
A feasibility study was given the go-ahead in December last year and the results found that Shire Hall is “suitable for museum use and the conversion can be achieved respecting the buildings historic importance and listing”.
Phase one of the plan includes providing security and environmental adaptations to Shire Hall, conserving collection objects for display and addressing the immediate storage needs.
This is expected to cost around £250,000 and should be completed later in 2021.
The report says: “It is anticipated that the combined facility and staffing will allow for extended opening hours compared to the current museum and the intention is to utilise the initial phase to explore options such as early evening opening.”
If given the go-ahead then Market Hall could be used as a hub for regional working.
A decision on whether to press ahead with the plans will be made by Monmouthshire council’s cabinet next Wednesday.