CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council is preparing and implementing a comprehensive response to coronavirus (COVID-19) to prevent and limit the spread of the outbreak as far as possible.

A tactical command group bringing together the council’s leadership team is implementing contingency plans and taking special measures to help protect residents.

The council continues to take advice and direction from Public Health Wales and Welsh Government, and is working with multi-agency partners to prepare for what may be a lengthy period of disruption.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has opened two Coronavirus Testing Units (CTUs) to help protect the health of our communities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The units are in Cardigan and Carmarthen and more may open in other areas of the health board during the coming weeks to allow the health board to assess, and test more people, protecting them and our wider communities.

CTUs allow the health service to undertake far more tests than can be accommodated through home testing alone. Eligible people, by arrangement through the 111 service and prior appointment only, make their way to the units in their own cars. Once inside the unit, an initial clinical assessment and simple tests (throat swabs) are carried out.

Home testing will continue, by special arrangement in certain circumstances.

The CTUs pose no risk to the public as stringent infection prevention measures are in place to protect people, staff and the wider community. These include strict clinical protocols, specific instruction for those attending, use of separate entrances and exits, and use of Personal Protective Equipment.

Specific locations will not be announced due to the need to protect patient confidentiality, allow for contingency arrangements to be made and for the safeguarding of our own staff.

Under no circumstances should members of the public walk in to these facilities. They are only for people with prior appointment and instruction through the 111 pathway and any other attendances could disrupt our ability to test our patients.

Hywel Dda University Health Board’s Director of Public Health Ros Jervis said: “We are extremely proud of our staff in Hywel Dda University Health Board who are working hard to protect the health of our communities in response to COVID-19.

“We are working with our local, regional and national partners to implement our planned response and stringent infection control measures.

“Like other health boards, we have been undertaking tests for COVID-19 in people’s own homes. The demand for this is likely to get greater and we have planned additional capacity to deal with this by opening our CTUs. This will allow us to undertake far more tests for appropriate patients, who have used the 111 pathway.

“We are grateful for the co-operation of our communities.”

If you are concerned you may have Coronavirus, please do not attend your GP surgery, the hospital emergency department, minor injury units or any another health setting.

There is now an online COVID-19 symptom checker available from the NHS Direct Wales website. Unless you have travelled to specified areas where you are required to dial 111, please check the information on the symptom checker before you phone.

Everyone can take simple steps to stay well, including good basic hygiene especially washing your hands regularly, using hot water and soap or hand sanitiser. If you have cold and flu symptoms, please use a tissue to catch it, bin it and kill it.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Public Health Wales website for further public information – phw.nhs.wales/coronavirus

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