News in brief: New vaccine milestone reached as 70% of Welsh adults get a first jab
Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services has hailed the latest figures from Public Health Wales that confirm over 70% of the adult population in Wales have now received a first dose of Covid vaccine and one in four adults have completed the two-dose course.
Data published today by PHW shows that 1,800,428 people have received a first jab since the start of the mass vaccination programme in the second week of December last year and 715,425 have had both injections and are fully vaccinated.
In a written statement, the minister praised “our incredible vaccination teams” and highlighted improvements in the take-up of the vaccine in the last two months.
“We are making good progress vaccinating younger adults – nearly 70% of people in their 40s and more than 35% of people in their 30s have had a first dose,” he said.
“The enhanced vaccination report from Public Health Wales also shows that coverage of vaccination has increased in all reported socioeconomic and ethnic groups since February.
“Inequality gaps in coverage of at least one dose of CovidD-19 vaccine between ethnic and socioeconomic groups in older adults in Wales have narrowed since March. There is still work to do to close these gaps further and, as set out in our vaccination strategy updates, this will remain a key focus for the vaccination programme.”
“It is important for everyone to take up their offer of vaccination; the NHS in Wales is working hard to make available the right vaccine at the right time for all individuals, Mr Gething added.
“It is never too late for someone in the first priority groups to come forward for their vaccination, there are always plans in place to ensure that no one is left behind. Anyone in groups 1-9 that has not yet heard about their appointment should contact their health board. Full details are available on the Welsh Government’s website.”
PHW also reported no further deaths due to Covid and just 35 new cases in its latest update.
Over the seven days up to 25 April just 344 positive tests have been confirmed in Wales and the national weekly case rate has fallen to 10.9 per 100,000 people.
The case rate has been above 10 for the last 35 weeks.
Seven local authorities reported no new cases in the last 24 hours, while Cardiff reported nine, the most in Wales, followed by the five new infections in Caerphilly.
Newport has the highest weekly case rate at 27.2 and the highest positive test rate at 2.6% per 100,000 test.
Giggs pleads not guilty to domestic abuse charges
Wales manager Ryan Giggs has pleaded not guilty to three charges of domestic abuse during an appearance at Manchester magistrates court this morning.
Mr Giggs is charged with causing actual bodily harm to a woman in her 30s and common assault of a woman in her 20s, at an address in Salford last November.
In court documents, the former Manchester United star is also accused of having “repeatedly or continuously engaged in behaviour which was controlling or coercive, namely, used violence, isolation, belittling, humiliation, harassment, degradation and abuse towards Kate Greville, to whom, at the time of the behaviour, you were personally connected in that you were in an intimate relationship, that behaviour having a serious effect on her, and you knew or ought to have known that the behaviour would have a serious effect on her”.
Mr Giggs is now due to appear at Manchester Crown Court on 26 May.
Giggs made 963 appearances over 23 years for Manchester United, a club record and also played for Wales 64 times, between 1991 and 2007.
He was appointed national coach in 2018 but stepped back from the role when the accusations against him were made public last November.
Last week the Football Association of Wales (FAW) confirmed Giggs’ assistant Robert Page would manage the team for this summer’s postponed Euro 2020 tournament.
Final review gives green light to next month’s Senedd and PCC elections
The government’s fourth and final review of preparations for holding the Senedd and Police and Crime Commissioner elections on 6 May has concluded the polls can go ahead as planned.
With Covid-case rates falling and currently under 100 coronavirus patients receiving treatment in hospitals in Wales, Julie James, Minister for Housing and Local Government said: “There has been no feedback from other stakeholders to suggest that there have been any developments which would impact upon the safe running of the poll.
“As the criteria for postponement have not been met, full preparations for the election on 6 May will continue.
“We are continuing to support Returning Officers and electoral administrators as they continue with preparations to reduce the risks associated with running an election during a pandemic, such as implementing social distancing and hygiene measures at polling stations and count venues.”
The current Senedd dissolves tomorrow but until then a decision, subject to the agreement of 40 out of 60 Members, to postpone the poll at any time could theoretically be made.
Following the recent easing of Covid restrictions, the minister also confirmed outdoor meetings of fewer than 30 people are now permitted and the use of street stalls as a campaigning activity will be allowed, subject to restrictions.
Health Academy proposals approved
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Plans to develop a training academy, which will produce health and care workers in Powys, has been given the green light.
In December 2020, Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) submitted a Listed Building Consent (LBC) planning application to turn the Grade II listed Basil Webb Hall, at Bronllys Hospital near Brecon, into a “modern flexible, conference and learning facility.”
The decision hinged on Powys County Council’s Built Heritage officer Debra Lewis’ report on the application,
Ms Lewis said: “The use of the building is considered acceptable and in many respects desirable as it retains an element of open plan reminiscent of its original function.
“On balance I would support the application.”
The agent for the scheme, Cardiff-based Pentan Architects, had explained that the aim of the project is to refurbish and refit the building to create a ‘modern, flexible conference, learning facility in partnership with Powys County Council (PCC) and The Bronllys Health and Care Academy’.
Pentan said: “The building originates as a recreation hall within the wider Bronllys Hospital which was established as a sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers in 1920.”
The academy is supposed to address the shortage of health and care staff in the county, by being able to train up new workers for the health and local authorities,
The building was built as a memorial to Second Lieutenant Thomas Henry Basil Webb, of the Welsh Guards, who was killed in action during World War One on December 1, 1917.
His father, Sir Henry Webb was a Liberal politician who was elected as an MP for the Forest of Dean from 1911 to 1918 serving as Junior Lord of the Treasury from 1912 to 1915.
He was also elected as an MP for Cardiff East from 1923 to 1924.
The hall was opened on July 17, 1920 by King George V and Queen Mary.