News in brief: Health officials blame lack of social distancing as 50 new coronavirus cases are confirmed
Public Health Wales has confirmed that a lack of social distancing is to blame for the recent increase in coronavirus infections in Wales as it reported 50 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in the last week to 232.
The recent increase of cases in Caerphilly continues with 11 infections reported since yesterday. There were also 10 new cases in Bridgend.
In the last two weeks 59 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Caerphilly.
Cardiff, where there has been a significant increase of infections in recent weeks, had just five new cases according to PHW. In the last fortnight there have been 119 infections in the capital.
Dr Robin Howe, Incident Director for the coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “We are now seeing a steady increase in cases and our investigations show that, these have been transmitted due to a lack of social distancing, in particular by a minority of the 20-30 year age group.
“This has resulted in the spread of the virus to other groups of people.
“I repeat my direct appeal to young people to please remember that, even if they feel that they would not be badly affected by COVID-19 were they to test positive, should they pass it on to older or more vulnerable family members, friends or colleagues it could be extremely serious and even fatal.”
The total number of cases in Wales since the outbreak started at the end of February has now risen to 18,115.
There have been no further deaths in the last day, meaning the total number of people that have died of the virus remains at 1,596. There were 5,938 test carried out yesterday.
Government commits to using more Welsh wool
The Welsh Government says it will use more Welsh wool in public buildings, following a request from both the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru last month.
The approach came following a collapse in the wool market which has seen farmers paying about £1 to shear a sheep and only getting an average of 19p per fleece.
The Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs – Janet Finch-Saunders MS, wrote to the government to urge the mandatory use of Welsh wool in new home insulation schemes.
In her letter of reply, Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, wrote: “I am pleased to say the Welsh Government’s own Facilities Management team has committed to consider the more widespread use of wool in our estate in future, subject to the required compliance testing and certification.”
Despite welcoming the response, the Shadow Minister said she will now write to the Welsh Government’s Housing Minister to request an “explicit commitment” in this area so as to provide a sustainable market for the nation’s farmers.
“I am delighted that this request from the Welsh Conservatives, which asked for a commitment to use more of our nation’s wool when furnishing public buildings, has received such a warm reception from the administration in Cardiff Bay, Mrs Finch-Saunders said.
“This has been an incredibly difficult year for Welsh sheep farmers, who have sadly witnessed a collapse in the price of wool clip as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Clinching this commitment from the Welsh Government was essential so as to safeguard the long-term prospects of this pivotal industry.
“However, I am most concerned by the Welsh Government’s passive stance on using this iconic Welsh product in devolved home insulation schemes. Without an explicit commitment from the Welsh Minister, our farmer’s wish to develop new and sustainable markets appears to have been stonewalled at this most challenging time.
“Elected Members have a platform from which to pursue policies that place the best interest of agriculture and farmers at the heart of devolution. I am writing to the Welsh Government’s Housing Minister to request a further commitment in this area, which will send a bold signal of support for an industry that is integral to the Welsh economy.”
In addition to asking for a commitment from the Welsh Government last month, Plaid Cymru’s shadow rural affairs minister Llyr Gruffydd also wrote to the UK Government asking it to consider using Welsh wool to insulate homes as part of a green drive to reduce energy costs and improve incomes for sheep farmers.
Welsh sprint great appointed British Athletics head coach
Welsh Athletics Hall of Famer Christian Malcolm has been confirmed as the new Olympic programme head coach for British Athletics.
The 41-year-old former sprinter, who was head of performance at Australia Athletics, is the first black coach to take the role.
Malcolm competed in four Commonwealth Games for Wales and missed out becoming the first Welsh athlete to appear in five when injury cost him selection for the Glasgow games in 2014.
He also appeared in three Olympic games, sharing with Colin Jackson the record number of appearances by a Welshman.
He was inducted into the Welsh Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.
Following the announcement of his appointment Malcolm, who is from Newport said: “In all my coaching and advisory roles so far, I have wanted to help athletes avoid the errors I made and support them and their coaches to get the best out of themselves.
“I’ve worked with some world class coaches throughout my career whilst competing, as part of the GB relay set up and whilst at Athletics Australia. They’ve all helped me to grow in various ways, but I know my first coach Jock Anderson would have been the most pleased to see me take this role and use all that he taught me about helping athletes prepare.”
Calls to extend shelf-life of Welsh Lamb
The Welsh Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs, Janet Finch-Saunders MS, has written to the Welsh Government to call for better training and funding support to improve the shelf life of Welsh lamb.
Despite a small improvement in shelf life reported by Hybu Cig Cymru earlier this year from around 21 days to 33 days, New Zealand remains the global standard with a shelf life of over 60 days for vacuum packed chilled lamb and up to 110 days for CO2 gas flushed lamb. Its widely accepted that an improvement in shelf life will improve global demand for the product.
Commenting on her letter, the shadow minister said: “I am seeking an explicit commitment from the Welsh Government to support the extending of shelf life for Welsh lamb so that this delicious, nutritious, and versatile product can be internationally competitive.
“Successfully achieving a long shelf life depends on having clean and hygienic practices throughout the supply chain, as well as good temperature control once the animal has been slaughtered.
“But for this to come to fruition, in both an expedient and time-limited manner, better channels of funding and training support must be offered by the Welsh Government.
“This iconic Welsh product has special characteristics that cannot be replicated anywhere else. It’s a fantastic and sustainable product, which contributes considerably to the estimated £690 million red-meat industry in Wales. “