News in brief: New study confirms a 47% fall in weekly Covid cases in Wales
Latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics have revealed another fall in the number of people with Covid in Wales, as the percentage of people testing positive for the virus continues to be the lowest in the UK.
For the week ending 24 April, the ONS estimates that 1,900 people in Wales had Covid-19, a fall of 47% from the week before and equating to 0.06% of the community population in Wales or around 1 in 1,570 people.
Over the previous week it was estimated that 3,600 people in Wales had Covid, equating to around 1 in 840.
In England, the number of infections dropped by 40% in comparison to the week ending 16 April, with 54,200 to have the virus over the seven days of the latest study, or 1in 1,010 people.
Figures also fell in Northern Ireland, where an estimated 1 in 940 people had the virus and in Scotland 8,200 had the virus approximately 1 in 640 people.
Today’s figures from Public Health Wales also reported no further deaths due to coronavirus and just 36 new cases of the virus.
No new cases
Seven local authorities recorded no new cases in the last 24 hours, while at the other end of the scale Cardiff, Newport and Wrexham each had five new infections.
Newport has the highest weekly case rate in the country at 25.2 per 100,000 people and the positive test rate at 2.5% is also the highest. Both figures are unchanged since yesterday’s report.
Monmouthshire has seen just two new cases and has the lowest case rate in Wales at 2.1.
The national weekly case rate remains unchanged since yesterday at 11.3 and the tests rate also remains the same at 1.3%.
Dr Eleri Davies, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “As we approach the Bank Holiday weekend, we would remind the general public that it is still extremely important to follow social distancing and hygiene measures to prevent the transmission of Coronavirus.
“That is, staying 2m from anyone you don’t live with, washing hands regularly and wearing face coverings in indoor settings.”
Green Party publishes proposals for a Green Transformation Fund for Wales
Wales Green Party has published a detailed policy paper outlining their plans to establish a Green Transformation Fund for Wales as proposed in their Senedd election manifesto.
The party says the Fund would raise the billions needed to invest in carbon reducing infrastructure by issuing Green Bonds and says current Welsh Government funds for transformation are a tiny fraction of what is needed.
The policy paper says the GTFW would only fund projects that reduce carbon and deliver financial savings sufficient to repay the capital along with modest interest.
The Fund would also enable individuals and communities to invest in securing a green future for Wales.
“While other Welsh political parties now acknowledge the urgency of the climate emergency, none are proposing action at the scale and pace needed to secure a safe, sustainable and resilient future for the communities of Wales,” Anthony Slaughter, leader of Wales Green Party, said.
“The exciting new thinking put forward in our proposal can achieve major change within existing Welsh Government powers. It is a call to action. Wales Green Party will work with others to make this happen. How could a failure to act now be explained to future generations?”
“We know that on the regional ballot the Green Party can win, and that the fourth seat in most regions will be between the Greens and Abolish. The only sensible vote for anyone who cares about the future of Wales and our environment is to vote Green”.
Welsh Lib Dems pledge to make every town in Wales a “Tree Town”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have pledged to embark on a major tree planting programme to create a minimum of 20% tree coverage in urban areas across Wales.
Under the proposals every council would be required to draw up a long-term Tree and Woodland Strategy to deliver and sustain a minimum of 20% tree cover in urban areas and 30% tree cover for all new developments.
“This is part of a range of tough new measures to tackle the climate emergency, including spending the equivalent of £1bn per year to protect our natural environment, create new green jobs, and create a greener economy,” leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said.
“We have made a commitment to tackling climate change with local initiatives such as tree planting that would clean up the country’s air.”
New Chief Nursing Officer for Wales appointed
The new Chief Nursing Officer for Wales (CNO) has been confirmed as Sue Tranka, who will start her new job later in the summer.
Her appointment follows the retirement of Dr Jean White who held the CNO role for the last ten years.
Ms Tranka is currently the Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for Patient Safety and Innovation at NHS England and Improvement and will be the first Black and Minority Ethnic Chief Nursing Officer in the UK.
With over 29 years of experience in nursing in the UK and abroad she brings a wealth of expertise in critical care nursing from across the globe to her new role.
“I am honoured and privileged to be taking up the role of the Chief Nursing Officer for Wales. It is exciting to be joining the team in Wales as we look to the future and build on the learning from the past year,” Ms Tranka said.
“Ongoing support for nursing and midwifery colleagues has never been more important than right now, and I look forward to meeting, listening and talking with teams as we reflect on the incredible response from the workforce to this unprecedented global health threat.”
New housing developments stretching local public services
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Hundreds of homes being built near Llantwit Major are stretching local public services like schools and surgeries, a councillor has claimed.
The town in the west of the Vale of Glamorgan, on the Bristol Channel coast, is rapidly growing as planning permission has been granted for hundreds of new houses nearby.
But as its population grows, there are calls to invest in public services in the town too, to cater for the new people living there.
Vale of Glamorgan council said thousands of pounds from housing developers will go towards improving community facilities. But schools and surgeries remain an issue.
Llantwit First Independent Councillor Gwyn John said: “When I attended the governors meeting at Llantwit Major Comprehensive School in March, we were told by the headteacher that the school was now full and could not take any more pupils at the present time.
“It is very clear that Llantwit Major does not have the infrastructure to accommodate further development in the area with 490 homes planned in the area of the town.
“We’ve currently got 370 houses in St Athan being built, we’ve got another 240 on the list, there’s further development in St Athan coming up. In the long term, we have got to take this into real consideration, while we have this opportunity now.”
The issues were raised during a meeting of the Vale council on Monday, April 26.
The school has enough places for at least the next six years, deputy leader Cllr Lis Burnett said; while housing developers are funding thousands towards improvements in the town like the tennis club, council leader Neil Moore said.
Cllr Burnett said: “Llantwit Major is a popular and successful school and is regularly fully subscribed as a result of the admissions from outside its catchment area. It does, however, appropriately serve its catchment community.
“Pupil projections for the next six years indicate there are places available for pupils residing out of the catchment after all local pupils are accommodated.
“The number of places available for non-catchment pupils range from zero in September 2022 due to a high birth year, increasing to 39 spaces in September 2027. Pupil projections are monitored closely in order to respond to any changes in demand.”
Cllr Moore said: “I do understand that new developments can have an impact on existing community infrastructure and also create a need for improved facilities, including school places, parks, public transport.
“In these cases, planning obligations serve an important role in delivering these facilities.
“Section 106 examples include £238,000 for developments at Plasnewydd farm and land adjacent to Llantwit Major bypass to support community facilities, particularly things like Llantwit Major changing rooms.
“There’s also a £20,000 grant to Llantwit Major tennis club for new flood lighting and fencing, and again that has come from Plasnewydd Farm, and the potential for up to £69,000 for the play area at Windmill Lane using Section 106, again from Plasnewydd Farm.”