News in brief: ‘No evidence’ of widespread community transmission of Covid-19 in Wrexham

Wrexham. Picture by Kenneth Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Health Minister Vaughan Gething says there has not been widespread community transmission of Covid-19 in the Wrexham area, despite the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics recording more registered deaths involving the virus there than any other local authority in England and Wales for two weeks running.

There were 24 Covid-19 deaths registered in Wales in the week ending 7 August, nine of which were hospital deaths in Wrexham. Altogether 16 deaths were in the Betsi Cadwaladr health board area.

The total number of deaths in Wales remained below the five-year average (8 deaths fewer) for the week, while the number of deaths involving Covid-19 increased by 14 from the previous week

The ONS figures report deaths in hospitals, care homes and people’s homes, and where coronavirus is suspected by a doctor or confirmed.

Mr Gething, speaking at Tuesday’s government press briefing, said the number of infections in Wrexham was falling and that there was a “continuing and improved picture”.

“The evidence shows there has not been widespread community transmission within Wrexham,” he added.

“That’s really important – that shows that our system is working as it should do, identifying clusters, taking proactive action.

“And we’ll need to see more of that as we see different cases and clusters around the rest of the country.”

Mr Gething also confirmed there are three people in critical care in Wales at present, the lowest number since the government started reporting the figures, and 70 people are currently in hospital with the virus.

Public Health Wales has confirmed here have been no further deaths due to coronavirus in its latest report. The total number of deaths dating back to March remains at 1,589.

Twenty-four new cases were recorded, bringing the overall number of confirmed infections to 17,599. There were 5,460 tests carried out on Monday.

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash.

 Calls for ministers to apologise over A-level results U-turn

Plaid Cymru are urging First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Kirsty Williams to make a “full and proper” apology to learners caught up in the row over last week’s A-level results.

Despite the Welsh Government announcing yesterday that teacher assessed grades were the fairest way to assess this year’s exam results,  Plaid Cymru claims significant consequences have already been felt by pupils and complain the government should stop defending the “flawed” process that saw over 40% of results downgraded by a standardisation algorithm.

Shadow Education Minister Sian Gwenllian MS said: “Both the Education Minister and the First Minister owe a full and proper apology to the young people of Wales for the results debacle.

“Instead, they continue to defend a clearly flawed system before the interests of young people, admitting that they only made their U-turn because England was about to do the same.

“However, had England not changed their mind, the young people of Wales would still be suffering. If the system is as good as they say it is, why drop it because of what England did? If you believed in the system surely, you’d have continued to stand by it?

“They should have conceded early on that using centre assessed grades by teachers was the best option going forward, but they left it until the very last minute and this created unneeded anxiety and a lot of last minute scramble for university places.”

Janet Finch-Saunders MS. Photo by the Welsh Conservatives

Shadow Minister calls for review of public sector food and drink procurement practices

Janet Finch-Saunders MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs, has written to First Minister Mark Drakeford seeking a review into current food and drink procurement practices by the public sector in Wales.

Mrs Finch-Saunders believes that the current measures must be altered to better support Welsh producers and farmers.

The public sector is a significant contributor to the food and drink spend in Wales, estimated at £78 million for the 2015/16 financial year.

According to figures released by the Auditor General for Wales, this included £53 million spent by local government; £20 million spent by health boards; £2 million spent by central government and sponsored bodies; and £2 million spent by Welsh further and higher education institutions.

“The COVID-19 recovery period provides the opportunity to double down on our support for Welsh suppliers. I have written to the First Minister to call for a review into public sector procurement practices, to ensure that public money is spent on accessing more nutritious, quality food grown in Wales,” she said.

“New measures would create greater opportunities for Welsh food and drink businesses, circulating public money where it is invested. It would be a bold signal of support for this sector, as their produce came to bolster mealtime offerings in Welsh schools, hospitals, armed forces bases and local authority buildings. “

Avanti West Coast train. Photo by CA850, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Avanti West Coast restores London services from Wrexham and Holyhead

Avanti West Coast has confirmed that it will be restoring train services from Wexham and Holyhead to London from Monday 7 September.

The operator is increasing services to close to 90% of the level before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

There will be one service per day in both directions serving Holyhead and Wrexham.

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “These additional services will mean more room for social distancing onboard.  We would like to remind customers to book ahead, reserve their seat and wear a face-covering whilst at the station and on board our services.”

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