News in brief: Health board reports steep rise in the number of children with Covid requiring hospital treatment
Swansea Bay Health Board has warned of a sharp increase in the number of children under 15 requiring hospital treatment due to Covid-19.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, 93 children in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have been ill enough to need inpatient treatment for Covid but almost half of those (45) have been admitted in the last three months.
In the first two peaks, between March and April 2020, and December to January 2021, around 3%-4% of Swansea Bay inpatient cases were aged 16-29 but in the last two months the proportion of younger adults has quadrupled, making up between 13.7% -18.6% of hospital cases.
The increase in paediatric admissions mirrors a steep rise in Covid-19 community infection rates in comprehensive school age children in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, currently running at one in 50 under-18s.
“These cases demonstrate that children are not invulnerable to Covid-19, and can and do become ill from it,” Swansea Bay Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid said.
“While children are much less likely than older adults to get seriously ill with Covid, it is noticeable and worrying that there is currently a spike in paediatric admissions.
“However, this is not surprising given that there has been such a big rise overall in the numbers of comprehensive school age children getting Covid in our region. Unfortunately, there is also an increase in younger primary age children now testing positive as well.
“Swansea Bay currently has some of the highest overall Covid-19 infection rates in the UK, and younger people – particularly under-18s – are now by far the biggest single group of confirmed infections.”
Infection rates in school age children are now 3 to 4 times higher than any other age group, with around 500 youngsters infected in the last week alone.
Over the seven days up to 24 September, Neath Port Talbot has the highest Covid case rate in the UK at 935.7 per 100,000 people and Swansea’s rate at 785.4 is the fifth highest.
Today’s figures from Public Health Wales have also reported 13 further deaths due to Covid-19 and 2,580 new positive tests for the virus in the last 24 hours.
In the seven days up to 25 September there have been 20,437 new cases, taking the national rate to 648.1 per 100,000 people, a fall of 0.9 since yesterday’s update.
Crucial rail link to get £25m upgrade
Network Rail has announced a major programme of works to protect the Newport to Gloucester line from landslips caused by climate change.
In the last two years the line has been hit by five major landslips caused by extreme weather, leading to extended closures of the railway and temporary speed restrictions, delaying more than 200,000 trains.
The project which will cost £25 million and gets underway next summer, will see the removal of more than 30,000 tonnes of material from the cliff face and the installation of a mesh and bolt system alongside three miles of track to stabilise the rock face.
The line itself is used by both passenger and freight trains with Tesco trains also operating on the route to supply their stores in Gloucestershire and Wales.
Network Rail says it is working closely with train and freight operators to carefully plan the project to minimise disruption to passengers.
Bill Kelly, route director for the firm, said: “We’ve seen a huge increase in extreme weather events across our network in recent years.
“Climate change is happening here and now, and across Wales and Borders – from the Conwy Valley to the Welsh marches and Severn Estuary – we’re responding by building a more resilient railway.”
Use of glue traps to be banned in Wales
The Welsh Government has confirmed an amendment to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 will ban the use of glue traps in Wales.
Glue traps consist of a sheet of plastic, cardboard or wood coated with non-drying adhesive and are designed to trap rodents such as mice and rats as they cross the board.
However, RSPCA Cymru, which has been campaigning against the traps, says 73% of incidents concerning glue traps involved non-target species such as pets and other wild animals, many of which were too badly maimed and injured to survive.
Animals caught in the devices can also be trapped for prolonged periods of time – experiencing potential pain, distress and severe suffering.
“Glue traps are horrible devices – and our officers have been left shocked and horrified by the awful injuries inflicted to wildlife, pets and other animals,” David Bowles, the head of public affairs at the RSPCA, said.
“These traps can cause immense pain and suffering to animals, and should have no place in modern Wales. So, we’re absolutely delighted that the Welsh Government has now announced plans to outlaw glue traps once and for all.”