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Britannia Bridge: Firefighters recall blaze fifty years on
Fifty years after the fire on the Britannia Bridge, firefighters recall being surrounded by flames.

Working in intensive care can be 'very frightening'

A nurse who has helped train extra staff to work on the front line of the fight against coronavirus says working in intensive care can be "very frightening".

Bangor University lecturer Naomi Jenkins has trained 170 nurses from across the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to double critical care staffing numbers during the pandemic.

The course was set up in response to an appeal from the chief executive of NHS Wales, Andrew Goodall, for extra personnel to be trained to support intensive care units across Wales.

Ms Jenkins, who worked as an intensive care nurse for almost 10 years, said working in critical care could be "very frightening" as things change quickly and you had "someone’s life in your hands".

“There’s a lot of equipment to get used to and a lot of drugs and you have to be able to get up to speed very quickly when you’re in there so I’ve got huge respect for the staff who have stepped forward.“

The staff all worked in roles with similar skills and are set to start at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Glan Clwyd Hospital in Denbighshire and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, after finishing the three-day course.

Naomi Jenkins
Bangor University
Naomi Jenkins worked in intensive care units for almost 10 years

Second homes 'loophole' advice updated

Large homes in Abersoch

A Welsh minister has written to council leaders to advise them on how to ensure some second-home owners cannot use a "loophole" to claim £10,000 grants intended for small businesses.

Five councils wrote to the Welsh Government last week calling for changes to advice so owners of second homes who pay business rates rather than council tax cannot apply for the grants as part of a £1.1bn Welsh Government package.

The Welsh Government had said councils can ask for more evidence from claimants, but it has now issued fresh advice.

In a letter to assembly members, Housing Minister Julie James says more than 36,000 grants have been awarded to businesses totalling £456.6m.

And she outlines how the guidance has been changed:

  • Local authorities can ask self-catering businesses for two years' trading accounts
  • Owners should have let their property for at least 140 days during 2019/20
  • The self-catering accommodation should be the primary source of income for the owner

Anglesey council, one of the local authorities which had called for changes, said it would not be able to issue grants to self-catering accommodation businesses immediately while it completed the new checks.

Covid-19 survivor thanks Bangor hospital staff

Chris Dearden

BBC Wales News

Brian Davies
Brian Davies has returned home to Holyhead

A man from Anglesey who received intensive care treatment for Covid-19 says it was the personal support of the nursing staff which enabled him to pull through.

Brian Davies, a 69-year-old taxi driver, was the first patient to go home from Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor after being successfully treated for the virus in the intensive care ward.

He was clapped and cheered by staff who had treated him in the hospital as he left on Monday after three weeks of treatment.

Now back home in Holyhead, Mr Davies told BBC Wales: "I started feeling a bit feverish at the end of March, but just thought I was in pain from pulling a muscle in my back.

"But when I was talking to my son on the phone from his home in Portsmouth, he became concerned at hearing me cough and say I was unwell.

"Soon after, I remember the ambulance crew coming to my home, and I remember being taken to an ambulance.The last thing I remember was crossing the Menai Bridge."

Mr Davies spent three weeks in Ysbyty Gwynedd, including almost two weeks on a ventilator in intensive care - which he described as "an out-of-body experience".

"I was aware of lying there, but it didn’t feel like I was properly inside my body," he said.

"Inside, it felt like I was shouting at the top of my voice, but I don’t think any sound was coming out.

"The one thing I do remember throughout my stay in hospital was that the staff always seemed to be there, and always seemed to be looking after me. It saved my life."

The clapping and cheering didn’t stop when Mr Davies left Ysbyty Gwynedd.

When he arrived home to his flat in Holyhead town centre, neighbours stood – two metres apart – to cheer him on his return home.

"I didn’t think I had so many friends”, Mr Davies added.

"People are still shouting ‘welcome home’ and ‘well done’ across the street. There’s a poster welcoming me home by the door.

"I was quite emotional at seeing my taxi parked outside. I’m looking forward to getting back to normal with the old steed again!"

Mr Davies plans to organise a fundraising event for Ysbyty Gwynedd as a way of thanking the staff who cared for him in hospital.

Brian Davies checks up on his taxi with his son Aron and Aron's girlfriend Hayley
Brian Davies checks up on his taxi with his son Aron and Aron's girlfriend Hayley

'Nos da, Mam': Singer's mother dies with virus

Singer-songwriter Gai Toms has tweeted about his mother's death after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Toms, from Bangor, Gwynedd, said his mother contracted the virus in hospital and was cremated yesterday.

"She didn't deserve to leave her friends and family in this way," he said.

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Coronavirus: Gwynedd hospital radio helps keep patients positive
Gwynedd hospital radio presenters broadcast from their homes to help patients feeling lonely or anxious.
Coronavirus: Wales shows its support for the NHS
People across Wales took to their doorsteps once more to show their support for those fighting coronavirus.

Field hospitals taking shape

Field hospital

Work is underway in north Wales on the three new field hospitals to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Deeside leisure centre in Flintshire and Bangor University's sports centre will provide 850 extra beds between them as part of the so-called Rainbow Hospital.

Ffion Johnston, from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: "We're all trying to work as quickly as possible to get the best care for our patients.

"We have various campaigns now to get nurses, doctors, therapists and volunteers. We've also had a few people coming out of retirement."

Biker on 'ride out' stopped

A biker was stopped on the A55 near Bangor after deciding to have a "ride out" from Chester.

Police said the rider was reported for the unnecessary journey, and for not displaying L plates.

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Academics look for ways to monitor outbreak

Bangor University scientists are coming together to find ways to monitor the spread of coronavirus.

Davey Jones, of the school of natural sciences, said an accurate estimation of infection spread would be "valuable information" for those trying to control the outbreak.

"While the number of hospitalisations of Covid-19 cases provides some measure of the disease within the population, it provides no reliable information on mild infections and carriers who show no symptoms,” he said.

The research group are going to test sewage to give an indicator of disease incidence.

"This is particularly suitable as most UK urban centres are served by only one or two waste water treatment works, providing a single integrated signal of millions of people in a single sample," Dr Jones said.

Bangor University
Eric Jones/Geograph

Deserted streets are 'massive nature experiment'

Goats in Llandudno gardens
Getty Images
Goats have been spotted eating flowers and hedges in Llandudno

As humans stay in their homes, nature is adapting to life without them.

Empty streets have seen mountain goats roaming the streets of Llandudno and peacocks have been seen on Bangor high street.

"This is unprecedented, it is a massive nature experiment," said Graeme Shannon of Bangor University.

Unable to leave their homes, PhD students at the university are using remote tracking to see if animals are changing their behaviour.

With many people working from home and not leaving the house except for essential travel and daily exercise, animals are adapting to the streets being near deserted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Second temporary hospital site for north Wales

A temporary hospital with about 250 beds for patients with Covid-19 symptoms is being set up at Bangor University.

Sports and leisure facilities are being used in a partnership between the university and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Health board chairman Mark Polin said: “The development of temporary hospitals like this are central to our plans to achieve the additional capacity we need, alongside developing additional space within our hospitals.

“I would like to assure the public that the preparatory work on identifying suitable sites has been underway for some time and is now moving at considerable pace.

“We are assessing sites in Flintshire and Wrexham where a third temporary hospital will be developed.”

Venue Cymru in Llandudno will also be converted to hold an additional 350 temporary beds, and construction work on a further 80 beds is currently taking place at Glan Clwyd Hospital.

Canolfan Brailsford, Bangor University
Bangor University

Man dies after being hit by lorry

In other news, a man has died after being hit by a lorry, police have said.

North Wales Police said it was called to the A55 near Bangor in the early hours of Wednesday following a report of a man walking along the major road.

The man was taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor by ambulance and died shortly after arriving at the hospital, the force said.

Sgt Raymond Williams, of the Roads Policing Unit, said he believed the man was 44 and from Ireland and was working with the police service of the Republic of Ireland - the Garda - to formally confirm his identity.

He said: “We know that he had travelled over to Holyhead by ferry as a foot passenger. We now believe he was given a lift from the port and was later dropped off near Bangor, so we are appealing to the person or people who gave a man a lift from the ferry to come forward."

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Time called on pub that 'ignored' lockdown order

A pub has been given notice to shut after it "ignored" government orders to close.Gwynedd council confirmed the Slaters Arms, in Corris, was served with the order following a joint investigation with North Wales Police.

The local authority said the business had “ignored the national directive that they cease trading for the present period”, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The council said it became clear the business "was unwilling to adhere to the new regulations".“Should the business continue to flout the law, we will consider what further steps would be required under the new regulations,” a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the pub said they were seeking clarification on the matter.

The Slaters Arms, in Gwynedd, has been ordered to close
The Slaters Arms, in Gwynedd, has been ordered to close

Child's thank-you letter to refuse collectors

Little Ani Tudur wrote this sweet letter to thank the refuse collectors working on her street in Gwynedd.

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