News in brief: NHS ‘vaccine passport’ app will launch in Wales within weeks
An NHS app that acts as a “vaccine passport” will be launched in Wales in the next month, according to First Minister Mark Drakeford.
The app is available from today in England to people that have had both doses of a Covid vaccine and could make it easier for people to travel abroad. However, according to the official advice from the UK Government, “There are not many countries that currently accept proof of vaccination”.
Mr Drakeford said the time lag before the app was launched in Wales was ” to sort out some “technical plumbing” between NHS systems in Wales and England.
He also confirmed there would also be a paper certificate for the whole UK to show you have been fully vaccinated, that would be initially made available by local Test, Trace, Protect teams in Wales.
International travel for any reason resumed in Wales from today but at Friday’s press briefing Mr Drakeford said he would prefer people to stay within Wales.
“We want to do everything we can to prevent coronavirus re-entering Wales as a result of international travel,” he added.
“I know many people have been looking forward to a holiday abroad, but travel will be very different to what it was before the pandemic.
“I believe this is the year to holiday at home and enjoy everything that our wonderful Wales has to offer.”
In a separate statement, Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton said he was particularly concerned about “the reintroduction of non-essential international travel which poses additional risks of re-seeding of infections into Wales and the introduction of more new variants with the ability to escape the protection afforded by our vaccination programme.”
The new NHS app is separate to the NHS Covid-19 app, which is used for contact tracing and is an enhanced version of an existing app that allows patients in England to request repeat prescriptions, book appointments to see their doctor and view medical records.
The new update contains a separate feature to display coronavirus vaccine records. It doesn’t currently show coronavirus test results but this is likely to be included in a future update.
One new Covid death reported in Wales
Public Health Wales has confirmed one further death due to Covid-19 and 91 new positive tests for the virus in its latest update, covering the 48 hours up to 9am on Sunday.
The newly reported death was in the Hywel Dda health board area.
Cardiff (12) recorded the highest number of new cases, followed by Newport (11) and Swansea (10).
There were no new infections on Anglesey, where just one person has tested positive for Covid in the last week, or in Ceredigion.
Newport’s case rate is the highest in Wales at 34.9 per 100,000 people over the last week and it also has the highest positive test proportion at 2.7% from every 100,000 tests.
The national case rate currently stands at 10.2 and the test rate is 1.0%.
Poultry keepers advised to remain vigilant as bird flu measures are lifted
The Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland and Wales have advised poultry keepers to remain vigilant following the lifting of additional biosecurity measures at the weekend.
The measures were put in place last November to protect flocks from Avian Influenza, which is circulating in wild birds.
The risk of bird flu in poultry has now been reduced to ‘low’ for all poultry as a result of the mandatory enhanced biosecurity requirements.
In a joint statement, the three Chief Veterinary Officers said: “This will be welcome news for bird keepers across the country who have put great effort into keeping their flocks safe this winter.
We have taken swift action to contain and eliminate this disease, and we urge all bird keepers – whether they have just a few birds or thousands – to continue to do their bit to maintain strict biosecurity measures on their premises, so that we do not lose the progress that we have made over the past few months. Low risk does not mean no risk.”
Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to monitor for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns. They can help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity on their premises, including:
- Fencing off ponds, streams, boggy areas or standing water and draining them where possible
- Netting or covering ponds
- Removing any wild bird feed sources
- Deterring wild birds by regularly walking through the area or by using predator decoys
- Cleansing and disinfecting concrete or other permeable areas
- Putting down wood shavings in wet areas
- Limiting the number of people who come onto the site
- Using disinfectant foot dips when entering and exiting enclosures or houses
Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should continue to report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (option 7), and keepers in Wales should report suspicion of disease to APHA on 0300 3038268.
Council to reconsider planning application for controversial chicken farm
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
A controversial planning application for a meat rearing chicken farm near Knighton, which had been stopped earlier this year, is now being looked at again by Powys planners.
Earlier this year, environmental campaigners Sustainable Food Knighton (SFK) won a legal battle against Powys County Council (PCC) to stop a 110,000-broiler chicken farm at Llanshay Farm being built.
SFK believed the permission which had been given to applicant Thomas Price in September 2022 by planners under delegated powers to be unlawful, and applied for a judicial review on the decision.
After a High Court Judge granted permission to proceed to a full judicial review hearing, PCC conceded the case and had to pay £20,500 in court costs.
That decision revolved around there being no evidence to say, that spreading manure from the units on the farmland twice a year, would not have an impact on the character or quality of the area.
Agent, Ian Pick, in a revised Design and Access statement following the legal decision, highlights the changes made to the manure management regime and building design.
Mr Pick said: “All manures to be removed from the site for disposal via an Anaerobic Digester Plant.
“A change to the building design to incorporate air scrubbing technology to
remove ammonia at source and enable the proposals to comply with the new
NRW ammonia thresholds.”
Knighton Town Council have backed the proposal if the manure is sent to a digester.
Campaigners, SFK have told their supporters to start writing to PCC to object to the proposals.
A SFK spokesperson, said: “Despite our recent success overturning the planning approval at Llanshay Farm, the plan is now being reconsidered.
“Powys, Shropshire and Herefordshire collectively have the highest concentration of Intensive Poultry Units (IPUs) in Europe, some for meat but others for egg production.
“Over seven million chickens cram into 150 IPUs across Powys at any one time.”
They believe the argument against the proposal includes the negative impact on landscape, the natural environment and human health.
They also argue it is “unclear” how effective the ammonia scrubbers would be and believe they represent “further industrialisation of farming”.
SFK also point out that IPUs take a toll on transport infrastructure and increase global carbon emissions.
SKF added: “The proposal to deal with the many tonnes of chicken manure produced by hauling it to an anaerobic digester 50 miles away merely shifts the problem and results in more lorry journeys.”
Mr Pick said: “This proposal is a small-scale poultry development which has been put forward by a family farming business as a way to further diversify the business, create additional income and secure existing employment.
“It will make a contribution to both the local and the national economy and to the national food supply.
“It will help to secure the future of an existing family farming business and so secure local employment for local people as well as creating additional income.”
“The development will make a valuable contribution to UK food supply and food security, producing table birds for the growing poultry market.”
The plans will be decided at a future date.