News in brief: Food plant outbreak declared over

Coronavirus. Picture: US Department of State

Public Health Wales has announced the Covid-19 outbreak at Rowan Foods in Wrexham is officially at an end.

In a statement PHW explained they had made the declaration as two incubation periods (28 days) have passed without any new cases being associated with the food processing plant.

There have been over 300 confirmed infections at the facility since the outbreak was declared last month and although health officials say there is no evidence of widespread community transmission Wrexham has seen a dramatic increase of infections in recent weeks.

In the last 30 days 133 confirmed cases were reported in the town overall and 2.4% tests per 100,000 of the population returned positive. However, last week just seven new cases were reported.

At his weekly press briefing last Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed that over the previous seven days, over 40,300 tests had been carried out in Wales, and just 141 of those were positive, a rate of 0.3% per 100,000 of the population.

PHW officials say they are continuing to monitor the higher background rates of Coronavirus in Wrexham as part of their routine surveillance of the virus.

The statement also confirmed: “We continue to work in close partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Wrexham Council to deliver multi-agency activity in Wrexham to monitor and respond to cases of Coronavirus.”

It also revealed an investigation along with Wrexham Council was ongoing following a small number of cases linked with the North and South Wales Bank pub in Wrexham.

Covid-19 hotspots have been linked with four different food processing plants in Wales, including Rowan Foods, dating back to June.

A major outbreak at the 2 Sisters plant in Llangefni was declared over last month after more than 200 workers tested positive for the virus.

Over 130 cases were confirmed at the Kepak Food Group plant in Merthyr Tydfil and earlier this month mass testing of employees was carried out at Zorba Delicacies in Ebbw Vale but revealed just nine workers had the virus.

One further death due to coronavirus has been reported in the last 24 hours. The total number of people who have died with the virus in Wales now stands at 1,593.

The total number of confirmed cases has climbed to 17, 746 as 19 new cases were announced in Monday’s update from Public Health Wales.

Overall, 4,921 tests were carried out across Wales on Sunday.

Only three infections were reported in Cardiff on Monday, following a recent increase in cases.

PHW confirmed it is investigating a small number of cases at a Sky call centre in the capital.

Photo by ål nik on Unsplash

Rhondda Cynon Taf secures £1.1m in emergency flood repairs funding

Communities in Rhondda Cynon Taf, which saw some of the worst flooding when storms Ciara and Dennis struck Wales earlier this year, are set to benefit from a further £1.1m in emergency funds from the government to cover the cost of repairing damaged flood alleviation measures.

The funding is in addition to £540k given to the local authority to work on repairs and remediation to flood protection assets, bringing the total amount of support to £1.6 million.

This brings the total amount in repair funds provided to local authorities across Wales in 2019/20 and 2020/21 to just below £4 million.

The new funds will allow the local authority to carry out urgent works to existing flood assets, including repairs to culvert inlets and screens, along with inspection and repairs to existing measures and the repair or replacement of existing monitoring equipment.

Cllr Andrew Morgan, the Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said: “The storms that we experienced in February were unprecedented, causing widespread damage to property and businesses across our County Borough, which was devastating to us all.

“Climate change is a real threat to our communities, with the likelihood of flooding increasing as this continues. It is now more important than ever that all agencies work together to protect our communities from the threat of flooding, creating new flood defences, improving existing infrastructure and creating greater resilience.”

Janet Finch-Saunders MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs, welcomed the announcement of additional funding but criticised the government over its 10-year delay in publication of an updated flood risk management strategy, which was only finally released last month.

Mrs Finch-Saunders said: “Flood prevention is better than cure, but Labour’s typical of policy dithering and delay meant the updated strategy was not in place by the time the severe floods hit Wales earlier this year, nor of course for this latest round of flooding.

“It’s desperately worrying that if it has taken the Welsh Labour-led Government 10 years to write its strategy just think how long it will take for them to actually build any of the flood defences mentioned in it, and how many more times places in RCT and elsewhere in Wales will be flooded out.”

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