News in brief: Covid cases continue to rise in Wales as Caerphilly lockdown looms

Photo by Evan Wise on Unsplash

Covid-19 cases are continuing to spike across Wales as the latest report from Public Health Wales confirmed 150 positive tests for the virus in the last 24 hours.

The last time the number of daily infections were at this level was at the end of June when a partial lockdown, including local travel restrictions, was still in place, and the number of infections had risen following outbreaks of the virus at food processing plants in Wrexham,  Llangefni and Merthyr Tydfil.

Caerphilly, which goes into local lockdown this evening, recorded 44 new cases today, the highest in Wales, taking the total number of people infected in the area over the last seven days to 132.

The infection rate in Caerphilly has now risen to 72.9 per 100,000 people, one of the highest proportions in the UK. The average across the whole of Wales is 16.1 for the last week.

Rhondda Cynon Taff has recorded 92 new cases in the last seven days after 17 confirmed infections were reported today. In response to the rise targeted community testing is due to be introduced in the lower Rhondda Valley and visits to care homes are being stopped.

Merthyr Tydfil has recorded 11 new cases, taking the weekly total there to 21 as the infection rate increased to 34.8.

Speaking at Tuesday’s government press briefing Health Minister Gething said he didn’t want to introduce lots of local lockdowns across Wales but warned that could happen if people don’t “follow the rules and the guidance” to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Don’t see lots of people in your own home, don’t go to pubs and restaurants mixing with lots of different people,” he warned.

“That’s how you don’t see a return on coronavirus in much larger numbers.”

“If we do need to take further measures then we will not hesitate to do so to help keep Wales safe,” he added.

PHW has also identified a cluster of 12 cases in Drefach after a presentation evening in the cricket and football club.

All those who attended the event, which was in breach of coronavirus regulations, will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Carmarthenshire County Council is calling on residents and visitors to take responsibility for social distancing and is working with Public Health Wales to manage the cases identified through the national Test, Trace, Protect procedures.

The total number of cases in Wales since the start of the pandemic has risen to 18,664.

No further deaths were recorded on Tuesday, meaning the number of deaths dating back to March remains 1,597. 

The boat transporting mud to Welsh waters two years ago. Picture by Cian Ciarán

Petition opposing mud dumping off Cardiff Bay passes 10,000 mark 

A petition organised by campaigners opposing plans to dump mud from the site of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station off the Cardiff coast has now passed 10,000 signatures.

The petition, created by Cian Ciaran of the Super Furry Animals, demands “that a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is carried out before any further sediment from Hinkley Point nuclear power station can be dumped”.

Two years ago, the Welsh Government approved an application by EDF Energy allowing the dumping of 300,000 tonnes of sediment from the construction of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station a mile offshore of Cardiff Bay

In February EDF submitted a new application to deposit another 780,000 tonnes of sludge off the Welsh coast next year as part of the building work.

Welsh National Party leader, Neil McEvoy MS, who has been a prominent voice in the campaign, said: “The public is concerned about this issue. Environmentalists are outraged. Eminent scientists are on record saying they are seriously concerned. The only people who don’t seem to be bothered about this are the Labour politicians sitting in Cardiff Bay. Wales is standing up for itself.

“This is first and foremost about the safety of our people and of our marine environment. It is also about how Wales is treated as a nation. The Chinese long ago brought in a ban on ‘foreign garbage’ to stop other countries dumping their rubbish there. In Wales, our government seems to welcome such treatment. But the Welsh people have had enough.”

The petition passed the 5,000-signature threshold to trigger a debate in the Senedd last week.

New funding announced to support package of mental health services

Health Minister Vaughan Gething has announced £1.3m of Welsh Government funding for telephone and online mental health support services.

The package includes SilverCloud, a new online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course, that offers support for a range of issues including anxiety and depression. The national pilot of the programme is being evaluated to test usability and effectiveness, building on previous work led by Powys Local Health Board which so far has supported over 3,000 people.

The funding follows a number of surveys by the Office of National Statistics and Public Health Wales that have shown that levels of anxiety rose at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and have remained higher than usual during lockdown.

Mr Gething said: “The Welsh Government is committed to supporting the mental health of the public, and we have ensured this package of additional measures are in place ahead of any potential second wave this winter and as the impact of the pandemic is felt more widely.

“These services are aimed at helping low level mental health issues; they are not a replacement for more specialist services but we hope by providing instant access to support they will help reduce pressure on primary care and other more specialist services.”

Services supported by the new funding are:

SilverCloud

An online course which offers support for anxiety, depression, and much more, all based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Anyone aged 16 or over can sign up at nhswales.silvercloudhealth.com/signup/.

CALL Mental Health Listening Line

Provides a confidential mental health listening and emotional support line which is open 24/7. CALL can also signpost to support in local communities and a range of online information. Call 0800132737, text ‘help’ to 81066 or visit callhelpline.org.uk/.

Beat eating disorders helpline

Beat provides helplines and information for adults and young people, offering a supportive environment to talk about eating disorders and how to get help. Call 0808 801 0677 or visit www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/support-services.

Mind Active Monitoring

Provides six weeks guided self-help for, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and more. To get started, talk to your GP, any other health professional, or sign up directly at: www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/active-monitoring-sign-up/active-monitoring-form/

Activate Your Life

The ‘ACTivate Your Life’ online video course shares practical ways to cope with thoughts and feelings causing distress and help live life with more confidence. To start go to phw.nhs.wales/activateyourlife.

Young Person’s Mental Health Toolkit

The Young Person’s Mental Health Toolkit links young people, aged 11 to 25, to websites, apps, helplines, and more to build resilience. You can access the toolkit at bit.ly/ypmhten

Photo by skeeze from Pixabay

Cancer experts concerned at Velindre plans

A group of doctors has written to Health Minister Vaughan Gething to express “deep concern” over the proposed £180m Velindre Cancer Centre being built in Cardiff.

The letter calls for an independent review of the plans and warns the facility would not be fit for purpose.

In the letter, signed by 57 cancer specialists, including surgeons, radiologists, GPs, anaesthetists and palliative care specialists, they say the new centre should be located alongside an existing hospital and called for clarity on how the original decision to build a new stand-alone centre near the existing Velindre hospital was reached.

The letter was also sent to Wales’ chief medical officer, the local member of the Senedd Julie Morgan and the chief executive of the Welsh NHS.

Velindre University NHS Trust has agreed to seek independent advice on the plans for the new facility.

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