News in brief: South Wales Covid-19 cases rise with hotspots reported in Cardiff, Caerphilly and Merthyr

Picture a merger of @LloydCymru’s coronavirus updates and an image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay.

Public Health Wales has reported 51 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours with 21 of those in Cardiff, where there have been 130 confirmed infections in the last two weeks.

PHW raised concern about the growing number of cases in the capital last week and indicated that young people failing to observe social distancing measure could be connected to the recent increase in cases.

The number of cases per 100,000 of the population in Cardiff has climbed to 35.4 from 25.9 last Friday.

Cardiff and Vale Test Trace Protect and PHW have identified at least sixteen confirmed cases of COVID-19 from three different parties who were on TUI Flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff on 25 August. Seven out of the sixteen were infectious at the time of flying.

Dr Williams said: “I would make a direct appeal to young people to remember that even if they feel that they would not be badly affected by COVID-19 were they to test positive, should they pass it on to older or more vulnerable family members, friends or colleagues it could be extremely serious and even fatal.”

In addition there have been 34 new cases in Caerphilly over the last week and a total of 13 people have also been confirmed as having COVID-19 in a cluster centred around the Merthyr Tydfil area with a small number of linked cases distributed across the region.

The cases in Merthyr are also linked through social gatherings and it appears the first cases contracted their infection whilst abroad.

Merthyr Tydfil CBC, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and Public Health Wales are working in partnership with Health Boards and Local Authorities across South East Wales to follow up cases and provide advice to those they have been in contact with.

Siôn Lingard, Consultant in Public Health for Cwm Taf Morgannwg Public Health Team said: “…if you have been abroad and have returned from a country on the UK quarantine list, then you must not go out for 14 days. In addition, having a negative test result within the 14 days isolation period does not mean people can end their isolation sooner than 14 days. Through not observing self-isolation guidance on return, it can have serious effects on other families and communities.”

Tuesday’s Update from PHW also reported the first the first death in Wales due to coronavirus in the last week. The total number of people who have died with Covid-19 is now 1,596.

In total there have been 18,063 confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic. people have now tested positive. There were 4, 733 tests carried out yesterday.

£18.5 million culture and heritage fund opens for applicants

From today organisations in the culture and heritage sector can find out if they are eligible to apply for financial support from the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

The new fund will see music venues; recording and rehearsal studios; Heritage organisations and historic attractions; accredited museums and archive services; libraries; events and their technical support suppliers; independent cinemas and the publishing sector being able to bid for a share of £18.5 million.

The latest funding is part of the Welsh Government’s £53 million package to support the culture and arts sectors which are coping with a dramatic loss of revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A separate element of the Cultural Recovery Fund, worth £27.5 million, is being delivered through the Arts Council of Wales to support theatres and galleries. This fund was launched 17 August with details available on the Arts Council’s website.

The online eligibility checker will enable organisations to make applications for support from the fund from 14 September. The closing date for applications is 30 September.

There will also be a £7 million fund for freelancers working in the sector to apply for support with details available through the eligibility checker.

Picture by the Welsh Government

Government to hold off fining parents for not sending children to school

Education Minister Kirsty Williams says fines for parents not sending children back to school will be reviewed over the coming weeks.

Fines are currently suspended as schools return from the summer break today and the minister told BBC Wales she believes parents need to be reassured it is safe for their children to return to school, rather than being “threatened with fines”.

Schools closed to the majority of children when the lockdown was introduced in March and most schools only partially reopened for a three-week period at the end of June.

Welsh government figures showed almost 40% of pupils stayed at home during that time.

“We want to have reassuring conversations with parents, rather than threatening them with fines,” Kirsty Williams said.

“At this stage it is absolutely appropriate that we have those conversations to understand why parents may have concerns, why they don’t want to send their children back, and to work with parents, school by school, on an individual basis, to reassure them.”

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

New support aims to plug gap from reduced council tax income

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has announced an additional £2.8 million of funding is being made available to support the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

The scheme which currently supports close to 300,000 people, helps those on a low income, students and disabled people with their council tax bills.

This additional funding will compensate local authorities by replacing the reduced income they’ve experienced due to the increase in the number of households entitled to CTRS since the coronavirus lockdown began.

“Whilst the coronavirus outbreak is affecting everyone, we know that it is having the most significant financial impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” the minister said.

“I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible for help with their council tax bills to contact their council for advice.”

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