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News in brief: Parents warned of big jump in cases of respiratory illnesses in young children

26 Jul 2021 8 minute read
Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Photo by National Institutes of Health (NIH) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Parents are being warned of a sharp increase in cases of respiratory illnesses in young children in Wales.

Respiratory illnesses, including colds and Respiratory Syncytial Virus infections are very common in young children and are seen every year, with RSV the most common respiratory virus in young children.

In normal circumstances, most children will have had RSV by their third birthday but because of Covid-19 restrictions, the number of children who have not been exposed to RSV is higher than normal, raising the risks of more widespread infection as social distancing rules are relaxed.

For the majority of children, these illnesses will not be serious, and they will soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.

However, some children under two, especially those born prematurely or with a heart condition, can suffer more serious consequences from these common infections such as bronchiolitis, an inflammatory infection of the lower airways – which can make it hard to breathe.


According to Public Health Wales, RSV infections in young children have quadrupled in the last four weeks and parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including a high temperature of 37.8°C or above, a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing.

“I would like to reassure parents that in the majority of cases RSV, which is the most common respiratory childhood virus, won’t be serious and babies and young children will quickly get over it,” Welsh Government Interim Chief Nursing Officer Gareth Howells said.

“But this summer, we are seeing a higher number than normal of cases among children under two.  Covid restrictions have raised the risks of more widespread infection as social distancing rules are relaxed and babies and young children have more contact with family and friends.

“Welsh Government has been working with the NHS in Wales which has plans in place for a wide range of issues ahead of winter including a rise in RSV and will continue to adapt them as needed.”

Meanwhile, today’s figures from Public Health Wales have confirmed two further deaths due to Covid-19 and 1,130 new positive tests for the virus in the 48 hours up to 9am yesterday.

The newly reported deaths were in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg and Hywel Dda health board areas and take the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 5,597.

Cardiff recorded 141 new infections over the early part of the weekend, the most in Wales, followed by Wrexham with 90 cases and Swansea with 82.

Denbighshire has the highest weekly case rate nationally, at 484.9 per 100,000 people, down 40.7 from Friday’s figures, and the positive test rate has also gone down from 18.6% per 100,000 tests to 18.2%.

Nationally the case rate has fallen from 185.2 to 169.6 and the positivity rate is unchanged at 10.9%.

Lorries ‘stacked’ awaiting clearance to pass through border regulations. Picture by the Welsh Government

Johnston considered as possible Border Control Post site.

Johnston in Pembrokeshire is being considered as a potential location for one of two Border Control Posts in Wales.

A total of 30 BCPs are being built across the UK to enable physical checks to be carried out on certain goods entering the UK from the EU as required under the Brexit trade deal but the UK Government has come under fire due to series delays to the .

The site in Holyhead is not expected to be fully operational until at least next year and a second site in Pembrokeshire has yet to be confirmed.

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson told the Western Telegraph Johnston is one of the areas being considered for a border post.

“As a result of leaving the EU, certain goods entering the UK from the EU are subject to checks at designated Border Control Posts,” they confirmed.

“We understand the Welsh Government has committed to supporting the development of required facilities and have been undertaking an extensive search for sites across the locality to provide a joint facility to serve both ports.

“Sites near Johnston are understood to be a location of interest, but work is still in the early stages.”

Earlier this month Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart MP, told the Welsh Affairs Committee the search for a location in Pembrokeshire was an “ongoing saga” as no site has been identified yet, and that it will be “a significant period of time before that site or sites is functionable”.

Mr Hart had previously told the Committee on 5 November 2020 that progress on border infrastructure had been “good”, and that there is an expectation that the deadline of July 2021 “can be met”. The Secretary of State then said that construction is “under way” and that, on Holyhead in particular, he was “as confident as I can be that that is going to be in place” by the deadline this month.

Photo by Chuck Underwood from Pixabay

Funding extended for early years speech, language and communication support

Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan has announced an additional £250,000 to support early years speech, language and communication services.

The funding extends the support made available last year to cushion some of the impact of the pandemic on children under five years old.

The focus for the funding will be on:

  • Funding for digital and physical resources and for IT for a range of uses including remote sessions
  • Training and development for SLC practitioners and childcare workers to identify speech, language and communication needs early on
  • Funding for It Takes Two to Talk parent workbooks for all main libraries in Wales

“We are committed to ensuring that children from all backgrounds have the best start in life and are able to reach their full potential, and we know that the early years are an important time in a child’s development,” Julie Morgan said.

“It is at this time that children develop speech, language, communication and oracy skills which underpin their ability to read, write and problem solve.

“The pandemic has had an impact on services and we are continuing to work with the NHS and specialist centres to help them meet children’s needs at this critical time.

“We want all children in Wales to have access to high quality speech, language and communication support in the early years if needed, and this additional funding will go towards ensuring SLC practitioners are able to respond to need in their areas.”

The section of the B5605 between Newbridge and Cefn Mawr was severely damaged during Storm Christoph in January

North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd says he is concerned that a road that was partially swept away in a landslip caused by Storm Christophe last January may not be repaired for years due to the Welsh Government’s refusal to pay for the work.

During the storm the river Dee swept away part of the land below the road, taking half the carriageway with it,

The repairs are expected to cost up to £1m but the governments has refused to meet the cost as ‘they do not meet the relevant criteria’.

“The road through Newbridge is an important link for local people of course but it’s also an important route for traffic when the nearby A483 trunk road has to be closed for any number of issues,” the Plaid Cymru MS said.

“So it’s very concerning to see a letter dated July 14 from Julie James, the climate change minister, telling the local MS that the repair work is not eligible for flood relief funding because it wouldn’t protect properties.

“She goes on to say that the road repair fund is fully allocated for this year and that the council will only be able to apply for this after April 2022,” he added.

“Local residents have had to put up with this for six months already and my fear is that this reluctance to fund repairs could mean delays lasting years before it’s put right. It’s completely unacceptable – this is not a minor road, it’s an important local through road and also has strategic importance for keeping traffic flowing north-south along the A483 trunk road between Ruabon and the Halton roundabout.

“I’m awaiting answers from the transport minister on this matter but I am urging local residents from the affected areas of Chirk, Newbridge, Cefn Mawr, Rhosymedre and Pentre to contact me with their views.”

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