News in brief: No evidence of community transmission around Ebbw Vale food plant

Photo by HM Treasury and licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Public Health Wales has reported that no further coronavirus infections have been revealed following mass testing of employees for Covid-19 at Zorba Delicacies in Ebbw Vale.

Tests were carried out on 476 employees after five people working at the plant were diagnosed with the virus two weeks ago.

Those tests confirmed three further cases of Covid-19 and one probable infection.

There have been over 600 coronavirus infections at three other food processing plants in Wales in the last month.

Rowan Foods plant in Wrexham has recorded over 300 infections and there have also been 221 workers infected at the 2 Sisters factory in Llangefni.

The Kepak meat processing plant in Merthyr has recorded 139 cases dating back to April.

Dr Giri Shankar, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “The fact that there has been no increase in cases is reassuring, indicating that control measures have been effective so far and that there is no evidence to suggest wider transmission within the local community resulting from the cluster.

“The situation at the site will continue to be monitored, and updates will be provided when required.”

Dr Shankar also confirmed Public Health Wales has taken the decision to declare the incident at Kepak over due to no infections being reported at the plant in recent weeks.

Public Health Wales has reported no further deaths due to coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

The total number of deaths due to the virus in Wales remains 1,579.

Twelve new cases of the virus were confirmed. The total number of cases in Wales since February now stands at 17,463.  There were 6,809 tests carried out on Sunday.

National Museum of Wales. Picture by Ham II (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tories pledge to improve access to Welsh history and culture

Paul Davies MS, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, says a Conservative government will “revolutionise access to our history and culture – and in every part of Wales”

Writing on the Gwydir blog Mr Davies announced five pledges to improve access to Welsh history and culture, including a National Art Gallery with collections in north and south Wales, a national Military Museum based in Brecon with exhibitions throughout Wales, a National Observatory, a permanent National Library exhibition in Cardiff as well as Aberystwyth and a greater place for the National Archives in Wales.

Arguing that Welsh Conservatives have been fundamental in the promotion of Welsh culture, Mr Davies writes: “As uncomfortable as it may be for our opponents to acknowledge it, Wales-only institutions have often thrived when driven forward by Conservative governments”.

 “…many of us will clearly remember the establishment of S4C, the enshrining of the Welsh Language in the curriculum, and the creation of the Welsh Language Board. All the work of the Conservative Party and, it must be acknowledged, the work in particular of Sir Wyn Roberts. Has there ever been a Welsh politician who has achieved more for Welsh identity and culture than Sir Wyn? But yet again too many commentators and historians obsess about devolution referendums and disregard everything that does not suit their narrative.”

“As Conservatives we have far too often failed to explain what we did and why we did it,” he adds.

“We have been too content to be pushed to the side-lines of history because, quite frankly, it doesn’t suit lots of people to acknowledge we Welsh Conservatives even exist.”

Church organ. Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Organs set for church comeback

The Welsh Government has changed its guidance on organs being played in church following complaints last week that they had been banned due to fears of infection from Covid-19.

Advice from the government had previously said: “Singing, chanting, shouting and/or playing of wind instruments and organs that require air to be pushed through the mechanism should be specifically avoided because “there is a possible additional risk of infection in environments where individuals are singing or chanting as a group, and this applies even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings are used.”

The new guidance says: “The decision whether to use an organ which requires air to be pushed through the mechanism during a ceremony should be based on a risk assessment and adherence with social distancing, hand hygiene and cleaning guidance.

“The use of alternative instruments such as an electronic keyboard or recorded music should be considered.”

Darren Millar MS complained about the ban last week, describing it as “bizarre”.

“This matter was brought to my attention by a minister in my constituency, who is completely perplexed by the ban, and told me that church members and organists are up in arms,” Mr Millar said.

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