News in brief: Welsh Covid cases jump 70% but infection rates remain lowest in the UK
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics confirm the number of people in Wales with Covid-19 has increased by over 70% in the last week, but the percentage of the population infected remains the lowest in the UK.
Over the week ending 17 July, the ONS estimates 14,400 people in Wales had the virus, 0.47 of the population or one in every 210 people, up 71% from the previous week when 8,400 people were reported to have Covid
England continues to record the highest infection rates in the UK, with 741,700 people within the community population estimated to have the virus over the seven days covered by the latest study, 1.36 of the population and an increase of 28% from the previous week’s study.
In Scotland 65,100 people were estimated to have Covid, up from 60,000 for the week ending 10 July and the equivalent of 1.24% of the population.
In Northern Ireland the number of people with the virus rose from 6,300 to 10,900 in seven days, accounting for 0.59% of the population.
Meanwhile, Public Health Wales has confirmed one further death due to coronavirus and 755 new infections in the past 24 hours.
The newly recorded death was in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area and takes the total number of deaths in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 5,595.
Cardiff recorded the highest number of new cases, with 73 since Thursday’s update and there were 61 new infections in Conwy and 56 in both Flintshire and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Denbighshire continues to have the highest weekly case rate in Wales at 516.2 per 100,000 people, up from 505.8 yesterday and the test positivity rate is also the worst in Wales at 18.8% of every 100,000 tests, a rise of 0.2% since yesterday.
The National case rate has fallen from 189.4 to 186.1 and the positive test proportion remains the same as yesterday at 10.6%.
New study shows majority back current Covid restrictions in Wales
A large majority of people in Wales support the level of Covid restrictions currently in place but the number of people who say they are strictly adhering to the measures has dropped to under 40%.
According to Public Health Wales latest ‘How Are We Doing in Wales’ public engagement survey, 81% of people thought the restrictions were ‘about right, while 7 % thought they were ‘too little’ and 11% thought that they were ‘too much’.
The percentage of people that said they were following coronavirus restrictions ‘completely’ fell to 37% from 43 % in the last survey, while 50% agreed that people who had had both vaccines should be able to meet each other without social distancing or wearing masks; up from 42% in the last survey two weeks ago, while 50 % disagreed.
Just 9 % of people said they were very worried about catching coronavirus and 25% were moderately worried; up from 5% and 23%.
The latest public engagement survey covers the period 5-14 July and interviewed 653 people across Wales.
Farmers urged to contact police if they have problems with holidaymakers
Farmers are being warned to act within the law as rural Wales braces itself for a major influx of tourists over the next six weeks.
Wales is one of the top destinations for UK tourists this year due to restrictions on international travel because of the Covid pandemic and farmers are concerned there could be a repeat of the problems reported during the half-term break when farming operations were disrupted due to tourists blocking access, trespassing, fly tipping and worrying livestock.
Sergeant Rob Taylor, the newly appointed all-Wales rural and wildlife crime coordinator, urged farmers not to take action themselves but to contact the police in the event of problems with holidaymakers.
“Our rural communities need to be careful that they don’t fall foul of the law themselves by their actions,” he told Wales Farmer magazine.
“As frustrating as a parked car can be across an access, moving it with farm machinery could result in damage being caused which can be an offence in certain circumstances.’’
“A phone call to the police should be the first decision if an unnecessary obstruction is caused and of course a well-placed ‘no parking’ or ‘access required’ sign can also be useful,’’ he added.
Consultation opened over woodland plans
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Thousands of conifers on Swansea’s Kilvey Hill are set to be replaced with native broadleaf trees.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has published a 25-year management plan for the woodland, which includes upgrading the access road and developing footpaths.
An area of new hilltop heathland is also proposed.
A few miles to the north, the agency wants to continue converting the Ynys Mond wood, between Glais and Alltwen, into native woodland and also remove more invasive rhododendron.
The public is being asked for its views on the plans.
NRW said the proposal for Kilvey Hill is to create a predominantly native woodland, over time, through the removal of diseased pine and larch trees.
It will choose replacement broadleaf trees which can withstand diseases and pests as far as possible.
Andrew Hood, NRW’s senior officer in forest planning, said woodlands had multiple benefits and had proved especially important during the Covid pandemic.
“We know how valued our woodlands are, and we want to make sure the people who use them have the opportunity to feedback on the plans,” he said.
Swansea group Kilvey Woodland Volunteers, which carries out various projects on the hill, has posted details of the consultation on its Facebook page.
Chairman Trefor Davies said the 25-year plan seemed to chime with the group’s re-wilding efforts.
A broadleaf mix would, he said, be more diverse than the larch and pine which currently dominate and more resistant to climate change.
“It will change the look of the hill,” he said.
The woodland group has already planted 700 native trees and re-wilded a strip of land near the Pentrechwyth Road access.
The Lower Swansea Valley used to be an industrial wasteland where nothing green grew, but it was gradually regenerated from the 1960s onwards with tree planting part of the huge project.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies said remembered the area resembling a “moonscape” before the council bought up the land and the regeneration work gathered pace.
“I think it’s a joy to see now,” he said.
Meanwhile there are proposals for a new gondola ride up to Kilvey Hill from land by the old Hafod Copperworks, complete with a hilltop restaurant, luge runs and a zip wire.
NRW’s consultation runs until August 16.