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News in brief: Covid deaths in Wales remain at six-month low

20 Apr 2021 10 minute read
Photo by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay

The number of deaths in Wales has remained below the five-year average for the sixth consecutive week, according to the latest figures from the Office for National statistics, but the number of deaths involving Covid increased slightly from the previous week’s study.

Over the seven days to 9 April, the number of deaths from all causes increased from 483 over the previous week to 576 which is 91 deaths (13.6%) below the five-year average.

There were 19 deaths involving Covid, accounting for 3.3% of all deaths in Wales, compared with 15 (3.1%) in the week ending 2 April, the first increase recorded by the ONS in 12 weeks but lower than for any other week since 25 September.

Since the start of the pandemic in March last year, the total number of deaths in Wales was 41,784 and of these, 7,831 deaths (18.7%) mentioned Covid-19. This was 5,717 deaths above the five-year average.

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.

The daily figures released by Public Health Wales only 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.

The ONS warns the number of deaths registered over the week covered by the study have been affected by the Easter Monday Bank Holiday and as the Easter holiday is not a fixed date, comparisons with the five-year average “should be interpreted with caution”.

According to figures released today by PHW there have been two further deaths due to Covid in the last 24 hours and 53 new cases of the virus.

The newly recorded deaths were in the Betsi Cadwaladr and Cardiff and Vale health board areas.

The total number of deaths recorded by PHW since the start of the pandemic now stands at 5,542.

Seven of the 22 local authorities in Wales had no new positive tests for the virus in the past 24 hours and only Newport (12) and Cardiff (10) recorded double-digit increases.

Swansea continues to report the highest weekly case rate in Wales at 29.2 per 100,000 people, down from 31.2 yesterday It also has the highest positive test percentage at 3.1%, down from 3.3% per 100,000 tests yesterday.

The national case rate now stands at 15.4 with 12 local authorities recording case rates below the statistically significant threshold of 15. The positive test proportion is 1.7%.

A total of 1,699,092 people have received a first dose of vaccine and 610,882 have had both doses.

Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds

Youth manifesto launched by Welsh Young Liberals

The Welsh Young Liberals, the youth wing of the Liberal Democrats,  have unveiled their youth manifesto ahead of next month’s Senedd election.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds will be able to vote for the first time in this election and the Young Liberals say their manifesto will help put recovery first for young people in Wales.

The manifesto includes pledges to:

  1. By 2025, introduce free public transport for young people up to the age of 25, as part of our plan to give the next generation the best opportunities.
  2. A trial of a Universal Basic Income
  3. A 24/7 mental health care system.

“We are the party of young people and have responded to calls from a number of organizations to ensure we are able to engage with first time voters ahead of this important election.

“This manifesto has been written by young people in Wales after consultation with numerous groups and stakeholders and aims to put recovery first in Wales. This means we will build a stronger, more resilient country which will help the next generation to thrive in the inclusive Wales we want and address the issues they face in their daily lives.” Matthew Hobbs from the Welsh Young Liberals said.

Jane Dodds leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats added, “A core part of the electoral discussion Welsh Liberal Democrats have been having has been how to engage with young and first-time voters across Wales.”

“The publication and launch of this youth manifesto has been undertaken by the next generation of leaders in Wales and is designed to appeal and resonate with young people and first time voters across Wales.”

Membership of the Welsh Young Liberals is open to all those in the party under 26 with an opt-in for those aged 26–30 and those in full time education.

Penarth Pier Pavilion. Photo Alex Seabrook.

Penarth Pavilion could become live music venue or exhibition space

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

Penarth Pier Pavilion could soon become a live music or an exhibition space as a major refurbishment is underway.

Vale of Glamorgan council is refurbishing the art deco building on Penarth’s seafront, after taking it over from the charity Penarth Arts and Craft Limited in February.

Plans for the pavilion include a new cafe, which opened last month, run by the council’s own Big Fresh Catering Company.

A public consultation on what the building’s future use should be runs until Wednesday, April 21. So far more than 1,000 responses have been sent to the council.

Rob Thomas, managing director of Vale of Glamorgan council, said: “Having recently taken over operation of Penarth Pier Pavilion, we have quickly set about assessing the condition of the building, arranging repairs and organising for it to be thoroughly cleaned.

“A cafe operated by the council’s Big Fresh Catering Company is also up and running.”

The Big Fresh Cafe is selling food and drink from local suppliers, with profits going towards healthy school meals for school pupils in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The council has suggested using the building for a live music venue, an exhibition space, or a meeting space for talks, classes and after-school clubs.

People interested in suggesting ideas can fill out a survey on the council’s website or use voting boxes inside the Big Fresh Cafe.

Mr Thomas said: “This is a thrilling opportunity to re-establish the pavilion as a focal point for Penarth and a space that the whole community can enjoy.

“We already have a number of exciting ideas for how that can be achieved but would also love to hear suggestions from residents as we enter a new era for this historic building.”

The pavilion had previously been run by Penarth Arts and Craft Limited for several years, but the charity struggled with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and several directors leaving.

Since taking over the pavilion, the council has been cleaning the inside and outside of the building, checking the fire alarm, addressing electric issues, and improving the heating system.

The council set up the Big Fresh Catering Company in 2019 as a commercial operation preparing school meals for Vale pupils. The company also provides food for businesses and private events across Wales.

Nefyn Beach Houses. Photo by Smabs Sputzer (1956-2017) licensed under CC BY 2.0

Major landslide at Gwynedd beach

People are being warned to stay away from Nefyn beach following a major landslide yesterday.

Coastguard crews were alerted to the fall at about 12:30 pm and emergency services and utility companies secured the area after the landslide, which saw parts of some gardens on the cliffs fall onto the beach.

In a tweet, North Wales Police said: “We are aware of people gathering to take photographs – the public are advised to avoid the area until further notice.”

Twitter user Cai Erith Williams also published aerial shots of the slip.

Gwynedd Council told BBC Wales: “A significant landslide has affected the beach in Nefyn with a large part of the cliff having fallen on the beach earlier today.”

It confirmed council officers were on site, adding: “Arrangements have been made for an initial investigation of the cliff to be carried out.”

Rhys Webb in action for Wales against Italy. Photo by Sum_of_Marc is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Rugby star backs plans to improve sports facilities in Bridgend

Hannah Neary, local democracy reporter

A Welsh rugby star from Bridgend is supporting plans for local teams and the council to join together to revamp sports facilities.

Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb is backing plans for Bridgend Council, Bridgend Athletic RFC and Bridgend Sports RFC to maintain and improve changing and playing facilites at Newbridge Fields, Bridgend.

Mr Webb, who was born in Bridgend and used to play for Bridgend Athletic RFC, said the club has been “a huge part” of his life.

The two clubs and the local council are considering setting up a partnership to maintain the pavilions at Newbridge Fields.

The council has already completed work on the New Pavilion and Bandstand Pavilion.  New wall cladding and shower rooms were installed  at the New Pavilion and the exterior was decorated while a new roof was installed on the Bandstand Pavilion.

Janine Nightingale, the council’s director of communities, said the local authority has a long-term plan to provide “all-new sports facilities” at Newbridge Fields.

The council is working with other clubs to maintain facilities “that may otherwise become lost” due to “increasing budget pressures”, she added.

Mr Webb’s sons started playing rugby at Bridgend Athletic and he is also one of the mini and junior coaches.

“The club is a huge part of so many young people’s lives and I hope that this will continue to be so for a long time yet,” he said.

“Although the team has a club house, the changing rooms at our home ground has always been the place we meet and get ready together to go out onto the field as a team.

“To see them in such a state of disrepair is disheartening, especially when I know my sons will not get the use out of the changing rooms as so many of us have over the years, nor will they get the benefit of a place to shelter from the typical Welsh rugby weather – cold, wind and rain.

Bandstand Pavilion. Photo Bridgend County Borough Council,

“New changing rooms would mean so much to all club members, young and old, and would give Bridgend Athletic players a huge sense of pride when playing at our home ground.”

Mr Webb said he is “pleased” the council has worked with Bridgend Athletic to improve facilities and made long-term plans to bring “high-standard changing and playing facilities” to the area.

“This will give teams the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with other teams in Wales.”

Bridgend Athletic RFC Chairman Stuart Morris said the club “looks forward” to continuing to work with the council.

“We are particularly encouraged that the council shares our vision for potential all-new sports facilities at Newbridge Fields, encompassing both gender and disability.”

A spokesman for Bridgend Sports RFC said: “The Bandstand pitch is synonymous with rugby football in Bridgend County Borough.

“There’s been minimal investment in the Bandstand changing rooms dating back several years. This opportunity, although itself limited, allows for any expenditure to go a little further with utilisation of the combined skill sets of those associated with the club and technical assistance from the council.

“We have over 300 young people playing for the club at all levels, and are host club for girls’ rugby across the county borough. Our ambition is to have modern community facilities fit for the 21st  century to support the development of young people, both on and off the field of play.”

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