News in brief: School outbreak sees Covid cases surge in Bridgend
Latest figures from Public Health Wales have confirmed Bridgend County Borough has the second highest Covid case rate in Wales following an outbreak at a primary school in Porthcawl.
More than 200 pupils are isolating after 26 people from West Park Primary School tested positive for Covid-19 and 267 pupils have been told to isolate.
The local authority has recorded 27 cases over the last seven days, taking the case rate to 18.4 per 100,000 people and the positive test proportion up to 2% per 100,000 tests.
Monmouth currently has the highest rates in Wales at 20.1 over the past week and the test rate there is 2.1%.
In a statement, Bridgend County Borough Council said parents and carers “have been advised to remain alert” and online learning has been arranged for any affected pupils.
A council spokesperson said four members of staff and 22 pupils have tested positive for coronavirus so far. They added “all staff and most pupils” in Year 1 are affected, with cases among pupils “also in nursery, reception, Year 2 and Year 3″.
The local authority is also urging parents and carers to “monitor their children for any symptoms of coronavirus, and to book a test immediately if they develop a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a change to their sense of smell or taste”.
A walk-in mobile testing centre has been set-up in the local area at the Awel-Y-Mor Community Centre in Hutchwns Terrace (CF36 5TP). It is open from 9am to 6pm and appointments are currently not required.
Cllr Charles Smith, cabinet member for education and regeneration, said: “While UK infection rates are falling and many pandemic restrictions have been relaxed, coronavirus has not gone away.
“These new cases demonstrate why it is still vitally important for us all to keep our guard up, to wear a mask, follow the rules and to make every effort to minimise the potential for exposure.”
According to a council spokesperson, 68 siblings of children who are in isolating bubbles have been advised to stay home and 335 pupils are currently home learning.
According to today’s update from PHW there has also been one further death due to Covid – in the Swansea Bay health board area.
Ten of 22 local authorities recorded no new cases since yesterday’s report as the national case rate increased from 8.6 to 8.9. The positive test rate across Wales remained unchanged at 1%.
More arrests expected following Mayhill violence
Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, says more arrests are expected in the coming days following violent disorder in the Mayhill area of Swansea last week.
South Wales Police have arrested seven individuals since last Thursday, when cars were set on fire, homes damaged, and police officers came under attack as they tried to restore order.
“I know from the ongoing contact with the Police and the Police & Crime Commissioner for South Wales from early on Friday and throughout the weekend that in addition to the arrests made already, further arrests are very likely over the coming days,” the minister said.
“I would urge anybody that has evidence of criminal activity linked to the Mayhill disturbances, including video evidence, to come forward urgently and to share what they have with the police.
“The Welsh Government will continue to liaise with South Wales Police, Swansea Council and other agencies involved to ensure the community of Mayhill is able to recover as quickly as possible from this shocking incident.”
MS calls for urgent roll out of full-fibre broadband
Welsh Conservative MS, Janet Finch-Saunders, has warned of a growing digital divide after a new survey found that over 50% of respondents from rural areas felt their internet services were not fast and reliable.
Mrs Finch-Saunders has also submitted a formal Written Question to the Minister for Climate, Julie James asking what steps are being taken to support the quick roll-out of a full-fibre network across Wales.
“The startling fact that 66% of survey respondents stated that they had been impacted by poor broadband just underlines that the digital divide continues to have a lasting and material impact on the success and well-being of our rural communities,” the MS for Aberconwy said.
“In working with the community on this issue, I have heard alarming stories of business struggling to function and of our young people being unable to fulfil their homework requirements. In this day and age, we should be working to ensure parity between our rural and urban centres.
“With a recent Openreach report highlighting the ‘game-changing’ impact that full-fibre will have on various regions of the UK, I have now asked the Minister responsible for digital connectivity to clarify what urgent steps will be taken to support a quicker roll-out of such broadband across Wales.”
Council raises concerns over ‘unreliable’ Welsh Government IT software
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Concerns about IT software used by Powys County Council’s social services staff will be taken up with the Welsh Government.
The Welsh Community Care Information System (WCCIS) is multimillion pound IT investment supplied by the Welsh Government to fully integrate health and social care in Wales.
It is supposed to mean that community nurses, mental health teams, social workers and therapists can share electronic records so that they know where a patient is with their treatment.
But problems with the system in Powys has seen the cabinet agree at their meeting on Tuesday, May 25 to put the issue on to the council’s Strategic Risk Register, as a risk to the council.
Head of finance Jane Thomas who looks after the register, said: “That is a fundamental system to delivering our services in social care, so the risk around that has been placed on the register as: almost certain and major impact.”
Head of Children’s Services, Jan Coles, told councillors that problems with the system was the “most important issue” that’s affecting staff morale at the moment.
Portfolio holder for Adult Social Care, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander was “delighted” to see the issue escalated onto the register.
Cllr Alexander said: “We are talking constantly to our colleagues in other authorities and to Welsh Government.
“It really helps us to see this accelerated as a risk this shows that we are taking the potential harm of this very seriously indeed.
Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, said that they authority needed to work with Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) to put right this “very serious” issue.
Cllr Harris added: “I think it should be escalated to the Welsh Government, we have a new team of government ministers and when they have settled, it would be a good idea to have that discussion as it can’t stay on the register.”
The changes to the register were approved unanimously by cabinet members.
Despite a hardware upgrade in March, the report said that WCCIS “remains unreliable.”
The report explained that IT system had proved “unreliable” during the pandemic which has meant that staff have been “unable” to perform their legal functions “in a timely manner.”
Problems created by the IT issues include:
- Delays in decision making.
- Delays in securing care packages.
- Safeguarding of children and adults could be compromised.
- Problems with transfers of people from hospital to the community.
- Out of hours emergencies response impacted.
- Staff morale leading to increased sickness absence and staff leaving.
Welsh publishers form new umbrella organisation
Publishers in Wales have formed a new umbrella organisation to represent the sector.
Cyhoeddi Cymru Publishing Wales (CCPW) has been established to promote and develop publishing from Wales and will also be used to showcase creative talent.
The new organisation will work bilingually, representing both Welsh language and English language publishing and says it is creating “a recognised, authoritative voice for Welsh publishing, with an international outlook.
Membership of CCPW is open to all eligible publishers headquartered in Wales and is backed by the Books Council of Wales.
‘This is just the start of our new organisation and the founding members are keen to extend a warm welcome to all Wales-based publishers to join us,” Natalie Williams of the University of Wales Press said.
“We aim to bring publishers across Wales together to unify the sector, and to take a big step forward in boosting Wales’ publishing presence on the world stage.
“We’re very grateful to the many publishers who’ve given their time during lockdown to bring this to fruition, and we can’t wait to see what we, together and independently, can accomplish through the strength of Cyhoeddi Cymru/Publishing Wales over the coming years.”
More details are available on the CCPW website here.