News in brief: New report confirms Delta variant is more resistant to vaccines
Public Health England has published a new risk assessment that confirms a reduction in the effectiveness of vaccines against the Delta variant of Covid-19.
The variant is now dominant across the UK and is thought to be 60% more transmissible than the Alpha (Kent) variant, which sparked the second wave of the pandemic last winter.
According to PHE, a new analysis of data from England and Scotland concludes there is a reduction in vaccine effectiveness against “symptomatic infection” for Delta compared to Alpha of between 15-20% for people that have received just one jab. Vaccine effectiveness against Delta is higher after two doses but remains lower than was achieved against Alpha.
Over 42,000 cases of the variant have been identified across the UK, according to the latest figures, up from 12,431 in the week ending 3 June.
The mutation currently accounts for more than 90% of all new infections and PHE estimates the number of new cases is doubling every 4.5 days in some areas of England.
Public Health Wales has reported 87 new cases in the last week, taking the total numbers detected to 184.
Earlier in the week, Dr Giri Shankar, PHW coronavirus response incident director, warned, “I think we are on the cusp of moving from limited household close contact transmission to contained community transmission, but the concern is that could progress to become sustained community transmission.”
Proportion of people testing positive for Covid in Wales reaches highest level since April
The Covid case rate in Wales is the highest in over seven weeks according to figures from Public Health Wales.
Today’s report from PHW confirmed no new deaths due to the virus and 118 new cases, taking the total of positive test up to 6 June to 426 and increasing national weekly case rate to 13.5 per 100,000 people, the highest since the seven days ending 18 April when the rate stood at 14.7.
Denbighshire (15) had the highest number of cases reported today, followed by Cardiff (13) and Pembrokeshire (11).
The case rate in Conway, which is at the centre of a Delta variant outbreak, remains the highest in the country at 34.1 up from 29.0 per 100,000 people.
Swansea has the second highest rate at 24.3 up from 23.1 yesterday and has the highest positive test proportion at 2.8% per 100,000 tests up 0.1% since yesterday.
The national test rate is also up 0.1% to 1.4%.
Covid hubs set up in north Wales offering support to the hardest hit
A new pilot scheme has been launched by the Welsh Government, establishing hubs offering holistic support to people who need to self-isolate and to those hit hardest by the pandemic across five areas in north Wales.
The Covid Support Hubs offer lateral flow tests and help to self-isolate if necessary and will also provide longer term assistance for people who might be struggling to buy food or pay bills.
The pilot scheme is part of Wales’s Test Trace Protect programme, and involves Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, local authorities, the voluntary sector and community groups.
The first hub launched in Holyhead last month and saw 59 people seen in its first nine days in operation.
Hubs have subsequently opened in Bangor and Denbigh, with new centres due to open in Plas Madoc (near Wrexham) and Flintshire later this month.
“It’s vital that people self-isolate if they test positive for Covid-19 in order to stop the virus spreading in our communities,” Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan said.
“Test, Trace Protect has been extremely effective at supporting people who have tested positive and their contacts to isolate and providing advice, guidance and support, and it’s important that we continue to invest in initiatives like this to support people to self-isolate when needed.”
Millions earmarked for replacement recycling centre left unspent for years
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
More than £3 million of taxpayer money earmarked for a replacement recycling centre in Cardiff has been left unspent for years.
The Wedal Road tip in north Cardiff closed in March 2018 and has still not been replaced.
Cardiff council has been promising for years to find a replacement site to build a new recycling centre in the north of the city.
But new figures reveal that ‘budget slippage’—where money set aside for certain projects isn’t spent—shows little work is actually happening to replace the tip.
Since 2018, the council has budgeted £3,325,000 over a five-year capital programme for a replacement. On Wednesday, June 9, questions were raised during a policy review and performance scrutiny committee about why this money is “just sitting there”.
Councillor Rodney Berman said: “There’s money in the budget for the provision of a new household waste recycling centre in north Cardiff.
“Is there actually any work going on to look at spending this money, or is the money just sitting there in the budget not actually being utilised in any way? What work is actually going on to identify a site, and in what way are we actively looking?”
Cllr Chris Weaver, cabinet member for finance, said no site has yet been found where the new recycling centre could be built.
He said: “We need to identify a site in the north of the city in order to be able to build it there. At present obviously we don’t have that site so we haven’t been able to spend that money. When a site is identified, that is what this money would go towards.”
During the 2017 local elections, Labour promised not to close the Wedal Road tip before building its replacement. Campaign leaflets said the recycling centre was “too small to cope with demand”. Meanwhile, residents in north Cardiff now have to go elsewhere to recycle.
The other two tips in the city are at Bessemer Road in Grangetown and Lamby Way in Rumney. Another recycling centre, at Waungron Road, was closed in 2014, to make way for a bus station that was due to open in 2017 — but that also still hasn’t been built.
In March this year, the council’s budget indicated plans to spend £200,000 in 2022–23 on a replacement tip in north Cardiff, £1,650,000 in 2023–24, and £1,475,000 in 2024–25. However, it remains to be seen if this money will actually be spent.