The horrendous Beirut explosion has killed (as I write this) at least 154 people with the figure sure to rise further. It also destroyed what little confidence there was in Lebanon’s government, which could worryingly trigger a return to the mayhem seen a few decades ago. When there is a major crisis, people need to be certain there is a government willing to try and do the right thing even if mistakes are made.
We are going through a crisis that has left 40,000 people dead in the UK. Both governments in Westminster and Cardiff Bay are learning lessons from the handling of Covid-19. If and when a second wave starts in the autumn, then everything from the tracing systems, supply of PPE and treatment itself will be improved. I have my criticisms of the Welsh Labour Government - but I don’t doubt its fundamentally good intentions. Most people have a sense that the respective governments of whichever party are doing their best in difficult circumstances and learning along the way. This confidence will hopefully bring us through and allow a return to some sort of normality shortly.
The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of connectivity. With more people likely to be working from home for the foreseeable future, we need to further extend access to high-speed broadband. Residents and businesses in rural Wales with broadband speeds of less than 30Mbps may now be eligible for more funding as the Welsh Government has agreed to “top up” the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Funding available through the scheme provides residents and businesses with a small grant (voucher) that can be put towards the cost of installing broadband to their premises. The Welsh Government will “top up” UK Government funding with an additional £1,500 per resident and £3,500 per small to medium-sized business. This means the maximum funding available per voucher has doubled and is now £7,000 for SMEs and £3,000 for residential premises. More information is available here: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk
I have written about it elsewhere but it was great to join up with new Member of the Senedd Laura Anne Jones to meet Dr Sara Fairbairn and the Royal Gwent Hospital’s respiratory team who are supporting Covid-19 patients through the long rehabilitation process. For some patients, leaving hospital after contracting coronavirus has only been the start of their recovery rather than the end. We are lucky to have people like Dr Fairbairn and her NHS colleagues looking after us.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 12 August 2020 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 13 August 2020*