News in brief: Covid antibody levels in Wales are highest in the UK
Over 90% of adults in Wales have antibodies, believed to offer some protection against Covid-19, according to the latest study released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The report, based on the results of blood samples, estimated 92.6% of the adult population have antibodies present, due to either a previous infection or from a Covid vaccine, the highest rate in the UK.
Researchers believe that most people who have been infected with Covid-19 develop antibodies specific to this virus. However, the levels of these antibodies can vary between those who have severe disease (higher levels of antibodies) and those with milder disease or asymptomatic infection (lower levels of antibodies).
According to the World Health Organisation, further research is needed “to better understand the levels of antibodies that are needed for protection, and how long these antibodies last.”
Its model, based on blood samples, suggests 92.6% of adults have either had a vaccine or tested positive for Covid in the past.
Rates vary across different age ranges with 66% of 18-year-olds estimated to have antibodies, rising to 94.6% of 25 to 34-year-olds up to 95.1% of 75 to 79-year-olds.
England has the second highest antibody levels at 91.9% of the adult population, followed by Northern Ireland on 90.0% and Scotland on 88.6%.
Meanwhile, there has been one further death due to Covid-19 and 941 new positive tests for the virus reported in today’s update from Public Health Wales.
The newly recorded death was in the Aneurin Bevan health board area and takes the total number of deaths in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 5,590.
Cardiff recorded 99 new cases since yesterday’s report, the highest in Wales, followed by Flintshire with 79 and Denbighshire with 70.
The total number of case for the seven days ending 16 July reached 5,993 as cases across the country continue to surge.
The weekly case rate in Denbighshire remains the worst in the country at 493.2 per 100,000 people, up from 460.8 yesterday and it also has the highest positivity rate at 18.5% per 100,000 tests.
Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot are the only two local authorities in Wales with case rates in double figures as the national rate has risen to 190.1 from 185.8 yesterday.
Health and Safety Executive accused of lecturing farmers
The Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs has accused the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of “lecturing” farmers after it published a report that revealed fatal farming accidents have doubled in Wales in the last 12 months.
The HSE study recorded seven deaths in 2020-21, compared with three in 2019-20 and described the increase as “disappointing”.
Agriculture has the worst rate of fatal injury among workers of the main industrial sectors – 20 times higher than the all-industry rate, according to the HSE and the organisation’s acting head of agriculture, Adrian Hodkinson said, “It is not acceptable that agriculture continues to fail to manage risk in the workplace.”
“We need everyone to play their part to improve their behaviour, do things the right way and call out poor practices whenever they are seen.”
“It is disappointing to be highlighting another high annual fatality rate in the industry when the causes are well known and the precautions to avoid injury are straightforward,” Mr Hodkinson added.
Responding to the report, Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs Samuel Kurtz MS said farmers have had to work under very difficult weather conditions to deliver food to the nation’s dinner tables in a pandemic, and for the HSE to criticise farmers instead of helping them learn best practice was “tone-deaf”.
“There’s not a farmer in Wales that won’t tell you that accidents sadly come with the territory of working the land and feeding the nation. For the HSE to take this strangely aggressive and patronising tone with our nation’s providers is really unhelpful,” Mr Kurtz said.
“Yes, work needs to begin urgently on reducing fatal deaths to zero, but that should come through education and sharing best practice, not lecturing all farmers on isolated incidents.”
“My message to the HSE would be that they’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” he concluded.
Five arrested after police raid finds drugs and weapons at Maesteg pub
Hannah Neary, local democracy reporter
A pub is at the centre of an organised crime investigation after drugs and guns were allegedly found inside.
Officers raided Station Hotel, Caerau Road, Maesteg on Friday July 16.
After executing the warrant, South Wales Police said they found drugs, suspected firearms and swords. Five people have since been arrested.
A police spokesperson said five arrests were made and a number of people have since been released under investigation following a series of warrants.
News about the alleged offences were made public via Bridgend Council’s website.
A licensing document published to Bridgend Council’s website reads: “Station Hotel, Caerau, Maesteg has been the subject of a warrant executed on 16 July 2021, during which a large quantity of controlled drugs, suspected firearms with ammunition and an assortment of weapons including knives, swords and a mace were found.
“South Wales Police are now investigating the criminal offences of controlled drug supply, prohibited weapons and firearms linked to the Station Hotel.”
Members of Bridgend Council’s licensing sub-committee were asked by police to determine whether interim steps should be taken to tackle the immediate problems at The Station Hotel. They decided to suspend the licence pending a full review hearing during a meeting on Tuesday July 20.
South Wales Police applied to the council for a summary review of the pub’s license, which is held by Lynette Lewis, on Friday July 16. A superintendent notified the council that the premises is associated with serious crime.
Summary reviews can be carried out if the police believe a premises is linked to serious crime or disorder. The process allows new conditions to be quickly attached to a license.
The pub is located near a post office, pharmacy and Costcutter store.
New initiative aims to boost Welsh food and drink businesses
The Welsh Government is hoping to increase the amount of Welsh products on the shelves of major retailers after launching its new Food and Drink Wales Retail Plan today.
Developed alongside industry experts, the plan aims to encourage the development of new entrepreneurial food and drink businesses and accelerate the growth of companies with a turnover of more than £10m in the retail sector.
Announcing the launch of the initiative in Pontyclun this morning, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths said: ”We have fantastic food and drink producers here in Wales and I am committed to helping them see their products enjoyed by more people, not only here in Wales, but across the UK.
“The new retail plan will be key to this by helping develop greater strength and resilience within the industry and put in place the building blocks to support companies in their next phase of growth and development.”