THE early intervention of Ceredigion County Council – along with the support and cooperation of residents – resulted in the county being one of areas least affected by Covid-19.

At its first public cabinet meeting since lockdown in March, the Ceredigion leader and council chief executive paid tribute to the staff and population that helped the county avoid the potential for 600 predicted coronavirus deaths.

Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn said the county had been warned of a loss of “600 of our population” but the work of the council team, especially at the start of the pandemic such working closely with Aberystwyth University and as helping students get home and the closure of caravan and holiday parks, had “lowered the population of the county to the people that actually live here.”

This allowed health services to cope and the predicted number of deaths were avoided, said Cllr ap Gwynn on Tuesday, June 9, adding that seven people had died due to Covid19.

There were 44 cases of Covid-19, “we’ve probably got the lowest infection rate in the whole of Britain,” said chief executive Eifion Evans.

In Ceredigion, there are 60.3 cases per 100,000 population - compared to 393.5 in Carmarthenshire and 233.9 in Pembrokeshire, the two other counties that make up the Hywel Dda health region.

In neighbouring counties, Powys has recorded a rate of 222.7 cases per 100,000 while Gwynedd has a rate of 368.8. The average for Wales as a whole is 457.6.

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The council’s gold command had been meeting daily, Cllr ap Gwynn told cabinet, with the frequency reducing over recent weeks, and regular meetings with Welsh Government ministers are also held.

Cllr ap Gwynn not only thanked Mr Evans for his work, as well as all staff, but highlighted the input of corporate director Barry Rees and his proposals for an early test, trace and protect system that was put in place around four to five weeks into the crisis - well ahead of any national scheme.

“We have to have this system in place so we have a better idea of how this virus spreads and get it under control,” she added.

Nine hundred food boxes are being distributed each week to people shielding and £23million of grants have been passed to local businesses.

Future work includes planning for the ‘new normal “post Covid-19 and post Brexit” with a no deal likely according to Welsh Government minsters, the cabinet was told.

Mr Evans added his  thanks to the 72,000 people living in Ceredigion, saying: “Without the support and cooperation of the population we wouldn’t be in the situation we are today.”

He said the early closure voluntary closure of tourism businesses and cocooning of care homes “weeks before the lockdown happened” reduced the infection rate.

“As a gold command team we said quite clearly from the outset that wasn’t an option,” said Mr Evans, adding that early strategy discussions elsewhere about herd immunity were ruled out.

The council is working on the third stage of adjustment and planning phases for reopening and reinvigoration of the economy.