News in brief: New study confirms nearly two thirds of people in Wales have Covid antibodies
New figures released by the Office for National Statistics confirm nearly two thirds of people in Wales have Covid-19 antibodies, which could offer some protection from the virus.
The study, based on the results of blood samples from nearly 1,000 people, estimated 63.2% have antibodies present.
The presence of antibodies is due to either a previous infection or from a Covid vaccine.
Just 38% of 16 to 24-year-olds, who are only now starting to get jabs, are estimated to have antibodies, while up to 90% of over 80s, a priority group when the vaccine was rolled out last December, have them.
Just under half (47%) of those aged between 35 to 49 tested positive for antibodies, rising to up to 82% of those in their 50 and 81% for people in their 60s.
The survey also shows 66.4% of women have antibodies, compared to 59.7% of men.
Researchers believe that most people who have been infected with Covid-19 develop antibodies specific to this virus. However, the levels of these antibodies can vary between those who have severe disease (higher levels of antibodies) and those with milder disease or asymptomatic infection (lower levels of antibodies).
According to the World Health Organisation, further research is needed “to better understand the levels of antibodies that are needed for protection, and how long these antibodies last.”
Meanwhile, Public Health Wales has confirmed one further death due to coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 59 new cases of the virus.
The newly reported death was in the Swansea Bay health board area.
There were no new infections in five of 22 local authorities, down from 10 yesterday, while Cardiff (10) and Newport (9) recorded the highest number of new positive tests for Covid.
The weekly case rate in Newport remains the highest in the country at 27.8 per 100,000 people, down from 28.4 in yesterday’s report and the positive test rate is also the highest in Wales at 2.4% per 100,000 tests, 0.2% less than yesterday.
The national case rate and test rate remain unchanged at 8.9 and 0.9% respectively.
Since the start of the mass vaccination programme five months ago, 1,975,820 people have received a first Covid jab and 877,756 have had both doses.
Car manufacturer that shunned Wales delays launch of new 4×4
Ineos Automotive has confirmed it is pushing back the launch of its new 4×4 off road vehicle the Grenadier to next year.
The company, which is owned by the billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, was originally set to be built in Bridgend at a facility that would employ up to 500 people but last December it announced production was being shifted to the Hambach site in Moselle after purchasing a factory from Mercedes-Benz.
The 4×4 was due to be launched towards the end of this year, but Ineos say production has now pushed back until July 2022, citing “unavoidable delays” last year.
A prototype version of the Grenadier was first shown in public in September last year.
Before the switch to France was announced, work had already started of the factory in Bridgend, next to the Ford engine plant, which closed last autumn with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
The Welsh Government was reportedly providing around £10 million to bring production to Wales and the company was also set to receive support from the UK Government.
Checker for next round of Covid business support will launch next week
An eligibility checker for the next round of government support for Welsh businesses will launch on the Business Wales website at midday on 17 May.
This latest support package will help those businesses, which remain affected by Covid restrictions, to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.
Businesses that stand to benefit include:
- nightclubs and late entertainment venues
- events and conference venues not covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF)
- hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes
- supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions
The support is the first phase of a £200m package earmarked for the Welsh Government to help businesses affected by the pandemic.
Businesses will be able submit applications by the end of the month and they will receive between £2,500 and £25,000 depending on the size of the business and the type of Covid restrictions they are under.
This support is in addition to the Welsh Government’s £610m non-domestic rates relief which will mean more than 70,000 retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will pay no rates over the coming year.
Announcing the new funding yesterday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We know the restrictions have helped to keep us all safe but they have had a big impact on Welsh businesses, which is why we are making more funding available to support firms and safeguard jobs.”
Senedd election attracts highest turnout since the start of devolution in Wales
Analysis by the Senedd’s research department has confirmed turnout for last week’s election was 46.6%, the highest since the Senedd was established in 1999.
The first National Assembly for Wales elections were held on 6 May 1999 and achieved an overall turnout of 46.3%.
Over 2.3 million people are registered to vote in Wales, of these over 1.1 million voted last Thursday.
At a constituency level, Cardiff North saw the highest turnout at 58.1%, while Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney had the lowest at 34.8%.
In 14 of the 40 constituencies, more than 50% of the electorate cast valid votes, while nine constituencies saw a decrease in turnout from the 2016 election with the largest decrease being 3.7 % in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney.
The largest increase in turnout was Dwyfor Meirionnydd up 5.9% on 2016.
At a regional level, Mid and West Wales saw the highest turnout at 52.8%, while South Wales East had the lowest at 41.7%.
South Wales East was the only one out of the five regions to saw a decrease in turnout, down 0.2% on the previous election. The largest increase was 2.9% in North Wales.
Police investigating Porthcawl Town Council’s accounts
Hannah Neary, local democracy reporter
Wales’ top public spending watchdog has asked South Wales Police to look into Porthcawl Town Council’s accounts.
Audit Wales, which is responsible for auditing public sector accounts in Wales, asked police to intervene as it has “concerns that could potentially fall outside of its remit to consider and bring to a conclusion”.
In a statement, Porthcawl Town Council said that the auditors “need to interview members and staff at the council to gain a complete view of certain events and decisions”.
It said that the auditors had been working on “an in-depth audit” of the council’s accounts for 2019/20.
It added that Audit Wales had asked South Wales Police “if it would be appropriate to progress to interviews” and the force “advised that they will now be taking this matter forward”.
It said: “Audit Wales and Porthcawl Town Council will assist South Wales Police fully with their enquiries.”
An Audit Wales spokesperson said: “We’ve been completing an audit of Porthcawl Town Council’s accounts. South Wales Police are currently investigating matters further and we will be assisting the police fully with their enquiries. We cannot comment any further whilst the investigation is underway.”
South Wales Police has been contacted for comment.
The full statement from the council read: Audit Wales have been undertaking an in-depth audit of the Town Council’s accounts for 2019/2020. Audit Wales have now arrived at a position where they will need to interview members and staff of the Council to gain a complete view of certain events and decisions. However, Audit Wales have some concerns which could potentially fall outside of their remit to consider and bring to a conclusion.
“Audit Wales have consulted with South Wales Police to see if it would be appropriate to progress to interviews. South Wales Police have advised that they will now be taking this matter forward. Audit Wales and Porthcawl Town Council will assist South Wales Police fully with their enquiries.”