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Coronavirus morning headlines as Wales’ first mass testing centre opens today

Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Saturday, November 21, as the first mass testing programme in Wales, opens up today.

Everyone who lives and works in  Merthyr Tydfil  will be able to have a coronavirus test whether they have symptoms or not.

The programme begins today and will be the first time that lateral flow devices, which can turn around results in 20-30 minutes, will be used at this scale in Wales.

In a statement on Wednesday, Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “I want to inform members of our plans for Merthyr Tydfil borough to be the first whole area testing pilot in Wales. Everyone living or working in Merthyr Tydfil will be offered COVID-19 testing.

“Our aims in delivering the area testing pilot are to: protect Merthyr and residents at highest risk; test the maximum number of inhabitants living in Merthyr Tydfil to identify the virus, wherever it is, and empower the local community to arrest and reduce the community spread in order to save lives and save livelihoods; and provide us with an even greater understanding of prevalence within the community and how many people are asymptomatic.

“To achieve these aims we are seeking to work with the communities and people living in Merthyr to embrace the testing being offered and help keep Merthyr safe.”

Vaccine centres being readied

The UK Governement is setting up vaccination centres across the UK in preparation of a vaccine being used, according to Matt Hancock.

People across the UK will be vaccinated across various sites including hospitals and by GPs in the community.

Mr Hancock said that if the regulator approved the vaccine, it could be rolled out as early as next month.

UK volunteer first in the world for antibody treatment

A volunteer in Manchester will become the first in the world to receive AstraZeneca’s new “antibody cocktail”.

It will test whether it will prevent coroanvirus by up to a year.

The clinical trial programme will recruit 5,000 participants, which includes 1,000 people from nine sites across the UK.

The aim of the trial is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a combination of two long-acting monoclonal antibodies – man-made proteins that act like natural human antibodies in the immune system.

Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said the treatment could be injected or administered intravenously.

He said: “There is going to be a significant number of people – even in a world where vaccines are highly effective – who will not respond to vaccines, or in fact will not take vaccines.”

Latest infection rates across Wales

A further 31 people have died with coronavirus in Wales and more than 1,000 new cases have been reported, according to the latest figures.

Public Health Wales (PHW), in its daily update on Friday, November 20, announced that 1,020 more people had been diagnosed with Covid-19 following a lab test. This was down from 1,048 on Thursday.

The total number of people in Wales who have now died with lab-confirmed coronavirus stands at 2,338.

Wales’ infection rate has seen a slight increase with 166.5 positive cases per 100,000 people for the last seven days (November 11-17) compared with 164.5 per 100,000 on Thursday.

Blaenau Gwent  is now the local authority with the most cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day average with  356.0 , down from 356.4 on Thursday.

Rhondda Cynon Taf  is second highest, with  250.8,  down from 256.6 yesterday.

Merthyr Tydfil  is the third highest area for infections at  245.3 , down from 256.9 one day prior.

Admiral closes Cardiff office again after coronavirus test

Insurance giant Admiral has closed one of its Cardiff offices for the second time this year after a member of staff tested positive for coronavirus.

The  Ty Admiral office  in the city centre was closed at midday on Friday afternoon after an employee was diagnosed with Covid-19.

The  same office, which is located in Davids Street, was forced to close less than a month ago for the same reason.

In September, the company’s Llansamlet base was also closed for 72 hours after the discovery of a positive case.

Admiral said there were fewer than 100 staff working in the 14-storey building at Ty Admiral, which is designed to fit 3,000 workers.


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First Minister warns about risk of another fire-break lockdown before Christmas

People in Wales may be impacted by another fire-break lockdown, according to the First Minister.

He warned that people must continue to follow the rules, rather than “behave in ways that will drive those numbers back up again”.

And he said the only way Wales could avoid another fire-break lockdown was by people not acting as though coronavirus had gone away.

“So my message to people in Wales today is very much that the fire-break succeeded thanks to everything that you and we did together,” he said.

“We can go on succeeding but we only do that by not acting as though coronavirus has gone away, not lapsing back into the ways that were driving up the numbers earlier in the autumn.

“And provided we do those simple things together, there is a pathway through to Christmas.

“But it’s not guaranteed because it really does absolutely, fundamentally depend upon every one of us playing our part.”

Donald Trump JR tests positive for coronavirus

US President Donald Trump’s oldest son has tested positive for coronavirus, according to his spokesman.

The 42-year-old, was diagnosed at the start of this week and has been quarantining at his hunting cabin since the result.

A statement from his spokesman, said: “He’s been completely asymptomatic so far and is following all medically recommended Covid-19 guidelines.”

He becomes the second of the president’s children to test positive.

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