News in brief: First Covid death in eleven days recorded in Wales
The first death in Wales due to Covid-19 since 25 May has been confirmed in the latest data released by Public Health Wales.
The newly reported death was in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area and takes the total number of deaths since the pandemic struck in March last year to 5,570.
A further 75 people have also tested positive for the virus, according to the update which covers the 48 hours up to 9am yesterday.
Conwy, where a cluster of cases of the Delta virus were identified last week, continues to have the highest weekly case rate in Wales at 17.9 per 100,000 people but there has also been a sharp increase in the number of cases in Swansea over the end of last week and it currently has the second highest case rate at 17.8 and the highest positive test proportion at 2.8% per 100,000 tests.
On Friday a cluster of cases was identified at a city centre bar and health officials are urging people that visited Jack Murphy’s bar between 26 May and 1 June to get a test immediately if they develop coronavirus symptoms.
At least 13 cases, including customers and staff, have been detected so far.
Bank Holiday weekend
“Over the course of the Bank Holiday weekend and the days leading up to it, hundreds of people are likely to have visited Jack Murphy’s,” Siôn Lingard, Consultant in Health Protection with Public Health Wales, said.
“Many of these people may not realise that they could have been exposed to the virus, and the TTP team may not be able to trace everyone who went there.
“So it is extremely important that we warn people about the risk so they can get tested if they feel unwell – not only with the classic Covid symptoms but any symptoms which are unusual for them.”
Overall case in Wales remain low, with the national case rate just 8.3 and the test rate 1.2% and five local authorities recorded no new cases in the two days covered by the latest figures.
Health chief says spread of the Delta Covid variant into Wales is ‘expected’
Wales’ Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Jones, says maintaining low case rates of Covid-19, while increasing vaccination coverage, will lessen “the likely magnitude of a third wave” of the virus later this summer.
In written advice to First Minister Mark Drakeford prior to last week’s announcement of the latest round of changes to the Covid restrictions in Wales, Dr Jones also warned of the threat of the Delta variant spreading from England into Wales.
The variant, first identified in India in April, is now dominant across the UK and is believed to be 50% more transmissible than the Alpha (Kent) variant, which sparked the second Covid wave last autumn.
“At present Wales has only a limited number of known cases of the delta variant, generally in clusters derived from travel related cases,” Dr Jones said.
“Our past experience is that variants will spread from England to Wales in time, so this is to be expected, along with an increase in associated transmission and case rates and possibly hospitalisations and deaths.
“The extent to which our excellent vaccination programme will slow transmission remains unknown. The protection provided by two doses against this variant is much greater than for one dose, and therefore protection from infection remains limited for many in the population at this point.”
Noting “there is pleasingly little evidence so far that increased mixing” after previous relaxations has significantly increased transmission”, Dr Jones concluded, “The risk of transmission in outdoor settings remains significantly less than indoors, so I would support greater freedom for outdoor activities at this time when the weather is improving, but a more cautious approach still to indoor settings, at least until the impact of the delta variant is more clearly known in a few weeks.”
Just under 100 cases of the Delta variant have been detected in Wales so far. According to the latest figures from the UK Government more that 6,000 people have tested positive for the variant in England and Scotland has recorded over 700 cases.
On Friday the First Minister confirmed that from today concerts, football matches with spectators and sporting activities outdoors can once again resume and larger outdoor weddings will be allowed.
The next review is on 21 June 21, and will consider easing restrictions on indoor events.
New £3m respite fund launched for unpaid carers. Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, has announced the launch of a new £3m fund to provide respite and short breaks to unpaid carers across Wales.
Around 12% of people in Wales have caring responsibilities and many of those do not receive any financial support.
Respondents to the Welsh Government’s recent Strategy for Unpaid Carers consultation, said their levels of stress and anxiety had increased during the pandemic because they could not access respite services, go on a daytrip or even leave their home for a couple of hours at the height of the lockdown.
Local authorities will be allocated £1.75m of the fund to meet an anticipated surge in demand for respite services and the remaining £1.25m will fund a new Wales-wide short breaks fund.
“This funding is very welcome, particularly given the significant impact the pandemic has had on thousands of unpaid carers,” Simon Hatch, director of Carers Trust Wales said.
“Carers have been highlighting for many years that the amount and flexibility of respite care support needs greatly improving. This is an important start in developing the respite support which carers in Wales deserve.”
Welsh actress secures BAFTA Award
Cardiff’s Rakie Ayola won the award for best supporting actress at last night’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards ceremony in London.
She won her first ever UK BAFTA for her performance in the BBC One drama Anthony, which told the story of Anthony Walker, a black teenager murdered in a racist attack in Merseyside in 2005.
“It was one of the most emotionally challenging things I’ve ever done,” Ayola said after the ceremony.
“I was exhausted by it, but in a good way. It was a career highlight, because we were telling an important story.”
Last year she won the Best Female Actor in a Play award at the Black British Theatre Awards for her performance in On Bear Ridge for National Theatre Wales and the Royal Court.