THE people of Llanelli are helping to control the rate of Covid-19 infections in the area, but more needs to be done before restrictions can be lifted.
Positive cases in the ‘health protection zone’ are still three times higher than other parts of the county, but the actions of residents appear to be making a difference.
When the new local restrictions were brought in two weeks ago (Friday, September 25, 2020), the rate of infection within the designated ‘health protected zone’ was 152 per 100,000 of the population.
Although the case rate has gone up and down over the last fortnight, the most recent data shows the rate of infection is now 99.9 per 100,000 people*.
The rate for the rest of the county, excluding Llanelli’s health protection zone, stands at 33.9 per 100,000.
Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of the Council, said it shows that people are listening to the advice and helping protect each other.
Carmarthenshire County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board, working alongside Welsh Government and Public Health Wales, said that whilst the signs are encouraging, the restrictions for the Llanelli area need to remain in place for at least another week to ensure the spread of infection can continue to be controlled.
The situation will be reviewed weekly, with figures and decisions announced every Friday afternoon.
The rest of Carmarthenshire continues to be monitored and all residents are being asked to continue following the national guidelines to ensure the whole county stays out of ‘lockdown’.
The overall rate of infection for the whole of Carmarthenshire has now risen to 53.5 per 100,000 population.
“We’ve been monitoring the cases across the county very closely – particularly in the health protection zone – and whilst we’re relieved to see things are heading in the right direction in Llanelli, we need to be vigilant across the whole of Carmarthenshire as we are seeing cases appearing across the county,” said Cllr Dole.
“We are grateful to the people of Llanelli for everything they are doing to help keep Covid-19 cases under control. Over the last fortnight, the rate of infections has steadily gone down, and this is really pleasing. It doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet but we’re hopeful that the extra measures being taken by people living in the health protection zone will continue to make a big difference.
“We absolutely appreciate the impact these extra measures are having on people’s lives, families and businesses. That is why we are reviewing the situation weekly.
“If the rate of infection continues to fall, we may be able to lift these extra measures placed on the people of Llanelli. If they don’t, or if cases continue to rise in other parts of the county, we may have to make decisions that affect more people.
“For now, I want to say thank you. Thank you for making a difference – please continue to protect each other and bear with these extra measures for a little while longer.”
Social distancing and behaviours at licensed premises continues to be an area of concern.
Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing has shown that transmission of Covid-19 appears to be largely between people of working age, with most clusters traced back to known premises.
In the last two weeks, the council’s enforcement team, supported by Dyfed-Powys Police, have proactively visited more than 200 business premises across Carmarthenshire to offer advice and support, and take enforcement action where necessary.
On the whole, most premises are operating safely and following guidelines well, but 10 premises have been served with closure notices following unsatisfactory inspections – some have since re-opened following significant improvements.
Household ‘clusters’ are also becoming apparent, which means the virus is being passed between people of other age groups who are living together.
Everyone is being urged to continue social distancing, washing hands, wearing a face covering indoors – and also outdoors where they can’t keep two metres apart – self-isolating and getting a test if they experience Covid-19 symptoms including a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of taste and smell.
Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda University Health Board Ros Jervis said: “To protect our own health and that of both our loved ones and wider communities – from the fit and healthy to more vulnerable people – we must all play our part. Please continue to social distance and use other ways of connecting with people, as this is so important for our mental well-being. Wash hands regularly and wear a face covering indoors, and outdoors if you cannot keep two meters apart. Stay at home if you have any symptoms and book a test. There should be no need for you to travel excessively to book a test as we have good testing capacity across Carmarthenshire. And please, if you receive a call from a contact tracer be honest with them no matter what. They are not interested in enforcement but they are doing their job to protect your health and those around you. Being honest and doing what we can to protect each other is so important right now.”
If you have any of the Covid-19 symptoms, including a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of taste and smell, please stay at home and book a test the UK-wide website or dialling 119 between the hours of 7am and 11pm (people with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119).
Local commonly asked questions about testing and tracing can be found at hduhb.nhs.wales