While the link between coronavirus infections and serious illness is weakened, the high number of COVID-19 cases locally is a concern and is impacting on our public services across the Hywel Dda area.
However, people can be reassured that multi-agency partners are continually working together across the region to protect our communities, local public services and the NHS.
Hywel Dda University Health Board, Public Health Wales and Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire local authorities together regularly monitor, review and agree actions needed to respond and manage the ongoing pandemic. This is co-ordinated through the Hywel Dda Regional Incident Management Team, established at the beginning of the pandemic, and continues to be further supported by county specific teams.
What we are doing?
Vaccination – Our vaccination programme is moving into the next phase, which see the launch of the booster vaccination (by invitation), following the JCVI priority groups as before. In addition, GPs are due to go into care homes; 12-15 year olds are now being invited to mass vaccination centres (MVCs) by appointment; walk-in clinics are continuing for people aged over 16; our mass vaccination van is out and about and will be located this weekend at Tesco, Ammanford where we see some of our highest cases currently. At the time of writing, 291,982 (75.4%) people in Hywel Dda area have received both doses, while 271,824 (70.2%) people have had their first.
Health care – we have taken steps to ensure we can care for those most critically ill in our hospitals by postponing some operations temporarily and realigning our workforce; we have further limited visiting in areas affected by COVID-19.
Supporting communities – through the local county incident management teams (IMTs), local authorities are providing guidance and support to schools following the recent return of pupils.
Communicating regularly with our public across the region has been a key focus in our response to the pandemic. Currently, this has involved Community Development Outreach workers engaging with minority ethnic groups within the community”; and supporting youth services and groups in messaging to young people about how to keep safe and encourage vaccination.
Local public sector leaders have come together to acknowledge the sacrifices people have made to keep our communities safe and to appeal to the public for support during the coming days and weeks.
Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda UHB, continued: “The future does bring a degree of uncertainty, such as the roll out of the flu vaccine alongside COVID-19 booster jabs. What is certain however is the commitment of the health board and our partners to be as prepared as possible. The health board’s comprehensive recovery plan outlines, first and foremost, how we recover from the pandemic: how we support our staff to recover after what has been an exhausting year and a half, and how we lay the foundations to recover our services and support our communities.”
Temporary Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Claire Parmenter, said: “With the uncertainties we face locally at the moment, we want everyone living, working and visiting this area to keep each other as safe as possible, so please remember the protective behaviours that will help ensure this for us all.
“We want it to be as easy as possible for people to get in touch when they need us. So save your time and report online – as you can now report non-emergency crimes and incidents online quickly and easily on our website at https://bit.ly/DPP101Online (or https://bit.ly/HDP101ArLein)
“This includes reports of domestic abuse, crimes, antisocial behaviour, road traffic incidents and collisions, and more. The online reporting isn’t replacing 101. But it’s important to promote the availability of our online services to those who would prefer to use this option, and it does mean we can answer calls from those who cannot contact us online quicker.
“We continue to work with our partners in a coordinated approach to serve in the best interests of our communities at this challenging time.”
Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “Carmarthenshire currently has a very high number of COVID-19 cases and is one of the worst affected areas of Wales at the moment. This is putting huge pressure on our services and the NHS.
“This virus does not discriminate – it is affecting people young and old. I would appeal to anyone who has not yet had the vaccine to go and get it as soon as possible. We should also remain vigilant when socialising and follow the measures in place to protect us.”
Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, said “Although Wales is now in Alert Level 0, COVID-19 is still spreading in our communities. We must all continue to consider how we keep each other safe and reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. It remains good practice to maintain social distancing and to limit our contacts as much as possible.
“We urge all Ceredigion residents aged 16 and above to ensure that they take up the offer of both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination. It’s easy to go and get the vaccine with walk-in clinics available. Having both doses will not only protect you, but also your family, friends and colleagues. We also look forward to 12-15 year-olds becoming protected through vaccination.”
David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “It has been easy to think we are through the worst of this pandemic, but the recent weeks have been a reminder how we must all continue to tackle this issue collectively. These past 18 months have been very tough and lockdown restrictions have changed our lives.
“In the past few weeks we have experienced a high volume of visitors to the county which can at times add additional pressures on our services.
“I cannot emphasise enough that this pandemic has not ended. Covid-19 has not gone away and we must all continue to work together and redouble our efforts, particularly as we head into autumn and winter.
“Please continue to socially distance where possible, wear face coverings where required, continue regular handwashing and choose outdoor activities or meet people outdoors over indoors.
“If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested. Don’t risk spreading this virus. These are simple actions that we can all take to help. They really do make a difference.
“Our front-line teams are working hard to support our communities and ensure we deliver key services. I would ask for your support to help us to keep Pembrokeshire open and welcoming to all.”
Together we can keep Hywel Dda safe.
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