News in brief: Welsh farmers slam ‘hypocrisy’ of new animal movement rules
The Farmers’ Union of Wales has slammed the announcement that a raft of additional restrictions on animal movements are to be introduced in England and Wales and described a proposed ban on live animal exports as “disadvantaging Welsh producers” and “utter hypocrisy”.
The UK and Welsh Government announced on Wednesday that animal movement rules – which farmers claim are already amongst the strictest in the world – would be tightened up significantly, and alongside the new restrictions a ban on live animal exports will be introduced.
The union also accused the UK government of breaking a promise in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto that “in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards” – by failing to enshrine those standards in the Agriculture Act 2020, and in the recent Australia trade deal negotiations which agreed to significantly increase tariff free access for Australian beef and lamb with “negligible guarantees” on welfare standards.
“The decision to tighten the Welsh and English rules while opening the door to more foreign food produced to far lower welfare standards is utter hypocrisy,” FUW President Glyn Roberts said.
“The UK has agreed a trade deal in principle with Australia that will allow the importation of vast volumes of food produced from animals that are moved in conditions that would already be completely illegal in the UK.
“The UK Government is also actively negotiating trade agreements with other countries where animal movement rules do not come close to those enforced in the UK. Most consumers will not pay the extra price for high welfare and traceability, which consequently disadvantages Welsh producers adhering to such high standards.”
Mr Roberts said Welsh producers were very proud of their livestock and high standards, and could understand increasing domestic regulation if it was coupled with further protection and support for our own produce and family farms.
“We are of course against excessively long journeys for livestock and are confident that the strict standards we have in place already, coupled with the fact we have close export markets, means we are already world leaders when it comes to animal movement welfare standards,” he added.
“To ban the crossing of animals from Holyhead to Dublin (56 miles) while agreeing to the importation of more food from countries such as Australia is utter hypocrisy and is not a decision rooted in evidence.”
Four further Covid deaths reported as cases continue to rise
New figures from the Office for National Statistics have recorded a rise in the number of people in Wales infected with Covid-19.
The ONS estimates 23,500 people had Covid in the week ending 14 August, up from 14,100 the previous week, representing 0.77% of the community population.
The figures also confirm Scotland has replaced Wales as the UK nation with the lowest number of infections after 25,900 people in Scotland were estimated to have the virus, down from 28,100 the previous week and the equivalent of .49% of the population.
The number of cases also fell in England, from 726,700 to 698,100 (1.33% of the population) while in Northern Ireland 35,300 had Covid-19 – 1.88% of the population.
Meanwhile, Public Health Wales has recorded four further deaths due to Covid and 1,728 new cases of the virus.
Two of the newly recorded deaths were in the Swansea Bay health board area and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Betsi Cadwaladr reported one person had died since yesterday’s report, taking the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 5,651.
In the seven days up to 15 August 7,129 people have tested positive for the virus, taking the weekly case rate to 226.1 per 100,000 people, up from 209.8 yesterday.
The test positivity rate has also risen, from 13.8% per 100,000 tests – to 14.4%.
Health officials issue warning as festival season ramps up
Public Health Wales is urging people to continue to take precautions to limit transmission of coronavirus and with festivals, sports events and other mass gatherings restarting across Wales following the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions, warns “Covid has not gone away”.
Since most Covid restrictions were lifted earlier this month, case rates have soared in Wales, but hospital admissions are about a sixth of the level recorded during the second wave of the pandemic earlier this year, thanks to the success of the vaccination roll out.
“As expected following the move to Alert Level 0, case rates in Wales have risen and are currently over 200 cases per 100,000,” Dr Eleri Davies, an Incident Director at Public Health Wales, said.
“While the vaccination programme has reduced the levels of hospitalisation and fatalities, the virus is still circulating in our communities.
“There are several measures that people can take in order to reduce the possibility of transmitting the virus.
“Firstly, please take up your offer of a vaccination when you receive it, as this is the best way of preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death.
“In addition, if you have symptoms of Covid then please get a PCR test (by calling 119 or going here), and self-isolate until you get the results. You should not attend a festival or other mass gathering event if you have symptoms.
“You should also consider carefully if it is sensible to attend these events if a close contact has tested positive for Covid, and ensure that you get a PCR test on days 2 and 8.
“When you’re at the event, hand hygiene, face coverings and social distancing are still effective measures to prevent transmission of the virus.”
Cardiff Met offers sanctuary to academics from Afghanistan
Cardiff Metropolitan University has offered sanctuary to academics from Afghanistan who have been forced to flee as a result of the current political crisis.
President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cara Aitchison, has written to Zeid Al-Bayaty from the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) University to offer assistance to academics from Afghanistan seeking sanctuary in the UK.
Professor Aitchison said: “Whilst we recognise the need for academic and scientific talent to remain in Afghanistan to offer the best prospects for the country’s future, we also appreciate that this might not be possible for all academics, at least in the short-term. As such, we would like to offer appropriate sanctuary and would be happy to meet the costs of hosting up to four academic staff with immediate effect.
“Wales is a welcoming nation and local authorities across Wales have, today, announced their willingness to house families displaced by current events. Working with local authorities there is the possibility of linking sanctuary-based employment with accommodation.”
Cardiff Met was the first university in Wales to be designated as a University of Sanctuary and Professor Aitchison is a member of the recently established UK Universities of Sanctuary Steering Group.