Public Health Wales issue Wrexham outbreak update – “283 positive cases of infection since 8th June”
UPDATE: Cllr Hugh Jones, Lead Member for Communities, Partnerships, Public Protection and Community Safety, at Wrexham Council has said this afternoon: “Public Health Wales has made clear in their statement that the increase is mainly due to the re-checking of previous data and not an increase in the infection rate. The Test, Trace and Protect Programme is in place to clearly identify positive cases and protect those they have been in contact with.
“By continuing to do this we will have a very clear picture of what is going in our communities and will be able to respond quickly and efficiently. We are confident the system is working and is working well and can reassure our communities that we are all working together to keep them and their families safe. We must, however, all remain vigilant, Covid-19 is still amongst us and will be for some considerable time which is why we should all continue to social distance and pay particular attention to hand washing or using hand sanitiser.”
Original information below…
Public Health Wales have said the increase in figures announced today ‘are entirely what we would expect’, and have moved to reassure the local community over the pandemic response.
The day-on-day Public Health Wales dashboard states Wrexham has 15 new confirmed cases, the highest in Wales and only local authority in double figures. Today’s new figure of 283 positive cases is +46 on the figures released on Tuesday.
Dr Christopher Johnson, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health Wales and Chair of the Outbreak Control Team (OCT) said this afternoon, “The multi-agency team managing the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus associated with Rowan Foods Ltd in Wrexham has recorded a total of 283 positive cases of infection in the workforce since 8 June 2020.
“We have previously asked people who work at the site and couldn’t attend for on-site sampling to come forward for testing, and they have. We are reporting a total increase of 46 cases recorded since Monday, but this does not mean that we have seen a jump in the level of infection in the last 48 hours. The majority of the increase is as a result of checking on-site sampling with results collected through community, home and drive-through testing centres, not new spread of infection.”
“I want to reassure the workforce and wider community that the results we have identified are entirely what we would expect to see when a focused and robust testing regime is put in place.”
“The OCT has received assurance from the employer and the Health & Safety Executive that the factory is taking all necessary precautions to protect its workforce. There continues to be no evidence that the infection is factory-based.
“The OCT will also continue to urge any remaining workers at the site who have not yet taken up the offer of testing to do so. We would also urge everyone to maintain two metres social distancing when outside of the home, to practice good hand hygiene and continue to self-isolate if they are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19.”
International Relations Minister, Eluned Morgan MS took today’s Welsh Government lunchtime briefing that was focussed on the announcement of a timetable for first stages of re-opening Wales’ hospitality and tourism sector.
We asked our usual two questions, one around the legalities around licensing versus guidance with regards to bars and pubs (the answer was ‘I can’t give you that assurance that the current rules will will take precedent over any new guidelines or regulations that we may put in place‘) and the second regarding figures around Wrexham’s coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier this week saw the announcement of a 237 headline figure of cases connected to the Wrexham outbreak, however an hour and a half later further context was giving that explained that included 72 ‘historic’ cases that could be weeks old. Since Tuesday afternoon there had been no further update before the briefing today.
We noted the Minister had pointed to the daily Public Health Wales update for new information, and the previous issue on Tuesday with the context of the figures only being released later. We asked if she thought there was a need for more clarity when there are outbreaks, with more regular information for the local population, rather than just a few lines on a public health wales statement every few days.
The Minister replied, “What I can tell you is that both the Health Minister and the Environment Minister have been keeping a very close eye on situation, that the testing that has taken place in Wrexham has been very thorough, that the army has been involved with mobile units. We are trying to give regular updates in terms of the numbers, and as I say at two o’clock today, you’ll be getting the most up to date figures.”
The Minister was also asked by BBC Five Live about a story they ran earlier this morning that again highlighted issues locally where workers said “they do not feel safe”, with other references to the choices being made between work and public health for financial reasons. Wrexham.com has raised the issue at previous briefings, and last Friday the First Minister told us he was writing to Prime Minister Johnson about the situation he called ‘perverse’.
Today the International Relations Minister said, “We’ve issued new guidelines specifically for food processing plants following the outbreaks that we’ve seen in food processing plants in Wales. It is very concerning to hear that people don’t feel safe in their place of work, and that is something that we are taking a very close interest in.
“There’ll be a further update today at two o’clock in terms of the numbers of people who are suffering at that Rowan factory in Wrexham, but just to make it clear that we are in a situation where also we are putting pressure on the UK Government to think again in terms of how they can support people who perhaps should be keeping off work, rather than just relying on the situation where they depend on that statutory sick pay, which is considerably less often than what they’re paid usually.”
You can view the briefing today on the below video, along with the Q&A session:
Yn fyw gyda’r Gweinidog Cysylltiadau Rhyngwladol, Eluned Morgan | Live with International Relations Minister, Eluned Morgan https://t.co/0QXeKjvIPp
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) July 2, 2020
Top pic: As the Minister noted today, the army has been at Rowan Foods assisting.
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