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Anger as town misses out on bilingual swine flu leaflet

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in Healthcare

English-only versions of a bilingual swine flu leaflet have been delivered to thousands of people living in a Welsh border town.

People in Chepstow have already waited a week to receive the bilingual leaflets, which give vital information about the deadly virus. But as leaflets finally began to drop through letter boxes in the past few days, residents discovered they have received the information in English only.

David Davies, MP for Monmouthshire, said: “The effort of translating the leaflet would have used up a lot of time and money which would have been better used elsewhere. The whole thing has been utterly shameful. The next time it should be sent out from London and that should be the end of it.”

Chepstow Labour councillor Armand Watts said the snub was an example of authorities’ ingrained attitudes towards the town, which was once dubbed the “least Welsh town in Wales”.

He said: “This is typical of the authorities’ approach. If the Assembly is committed to diversification clearly this should include Chepstow. In Chepstow Welsh speakers are a minority, but as a minority they should be making every effort to communicate with them.”

The Welsh Assembly Government was accused last week of putting people at risk by holding on to leaflets instead of sending them out at the same time as those in the rest of the UK.

Menna Machineth, chair of Welsh language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said: “I can’t see how it should have taken so long. I think people were expecting to receive the leaflets at the same time as everybody else. Everyone should have a bilingual version. It should be the same throughout Wales – there is no reason why Chepstow should be any different.”

There are still no confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in Wales, although 81 people have been under investigation – swine flu has been ruled out in 74 cases.

Northern Ireland yesterday confirmed its first case of swine flu in a man who had recently been on holiday in Mexico. He is responding well to treatment.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK yesterday rose to 78 as three children and two adults from London and another adult from the east of England were confirmed as having the virus.

The Health Protection Agency said four of the victims in England were linked to previously-confirmed cases and two were returning travellers.

Figures from the World Health Organisation reveal that 33 countries have officially reported 6,497 cases of swine flu. There have been 60 deaths linked to the virus.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokeswoman said: “Translation work was done immediately and the bilingual publication was available before the Royal Mail started to distribute the leaflet to any of the 29 million homes across the UK. The Royal Mail has assured us that all households in Wales should receive the bilingual leaflet and if there are discrepancies in the mail-out we shall seek the reasons for this with the Royal Mail.”

Wales Online

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