Five more people with coronavirus die in Wales, taking nation’s total to 22
A further 150 new cases have been reported, taking the total number of confirmed cases in Wales to 628.
Five more people who tested positive for coronavirus in Wales have died, raising the nation’s death toll to 22.
Public Health Wales said 150 new cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed, meaning there are now 628 confirmed cases.
Almost half of the positive cases, 309, are in the Aneurin Bevan health board area, covering the areas of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen and South Powys.
Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething acknowledged there was a “particular cluster” there but said he did not think it would be an “outlier” as the outbreak continued.
Dr Robin Howe, incident director for the novel coronavirus outbreak at Public Health Wales, said the virus was “circulating in every part of Wales”.
“Five further deaths have been reported to us of people who had tested positive for novel coronavirus (Covid-19), taking the number of deaths in Wales to 22,” Dr Howe said.
“We offer our condolences to the family and friends affected, and we ask those reporting on the situation to respect patient confidentiality.”
Mr Gething told a press conference in Cardiff that Wales could see a larger impact from coronavirus compared to other areas of the UK.
He said personal protective equipment (PPE) held in the pandemic stockpile had been released to frontline NHS staff and social care workers in Wales.
Face masks, gloves, aprons and eye protection is going to the 640 GP clinics and 40 out-of-hours services, while 715 pharmacies have also been sent PPE.
A hotline has been set up at the Welsh Government Emergency Coordination Centre to assist when PPE supplies are disrupted or there is an unplanned surge in use, he said.
Helen Whyley, the director of RCN Wales, said she was “pleased” with Mr Gething’s statement on PPE.
“I was disappointed however to read that the minister said the re-supply timeframe in respect of some of the PPE is uncertain. This is not acceptable,” she said.
She called for greater communication on the schedule of the rollout of supplies, for nurses and healthcare staff to know “when it will reach them on the frontlines”.
Tanya Palmer, regional secretary of Unison Cymru Wales, also welcomed the announcement.
“In this crisis, it is more important than ever that our frontline workers are adequately protected from this disease,” she said.
“These measures are not only for the direct protection of the workforce, but to slow the spread of the virus as much as possible.”
In total, 700 ventilators are available in Wales, with a further 1,000 potentially being acquired soon.
When asked about the number of cases in the Aneurin Bevan area, Mr Gething said: “There is a particular cluster within the Gwent area but we don’t think that is going to be the way that disease transmission works through the whole outbreak – that Gwent will be an outlier.
“We are pretty confident, unfortunately, that the community transmission that is taking place will be seen in other parts of the UK and other parts of Wales.
“My bigger concern is actually that we potentially have a larger impact in Wales because Wales compared to other UK nations is typically older, sicker with more health challenges, and poorer.
“On every other public health indicator that means there’s more challenge.
“My concern is that people heed the advice because otherwise we could potentially see a larger impact in Wales than other parts of the UK, so it really is important people follow the advice.”
Mr Gething said people who wanted to volunteer to help the NHS and social care system in Wales should apply through their local authorities.
Leisure centres and other sites including rugby stadiums will be converted into spaces for additional hospital beds to support coronavirus patients.
Mr Gething said it was important that there was the capacity for people who required treating in a hospital setting, and that those who did not require it could leave.
“Equally, as we get to a larger scale in the progress of the pandemic, we have additional capacity for people to leave to go to step-down care,” he said.
“So the 350 Grange beds, they are not going to be critical care beds at this point – they are part of the step-down arrangements.
“The arrangements that Carmarthenshire announced yesterday with Hywel Dda, that re-purposing of part of the Scarlets stadium and indeed local authority leisure centres – that provides significant additional capacity to make sure people can leave when it’s appropriate to do so.
“It’s also where we think we can make really good use of our undergraduate healthcare students because of their ability to help staff those beds.”
The Grange Hospital near Cwmbran is being opened a year earlier than planned to provide 350 beds.
On Monday, Carmarthenshire County Council announced that it was working with Hywel Dda University Health Board to put hundreds of additional beds in place.
Contractors will convert spaces at Carmarthen Leisure Centre and the Selwyn Samuel Centre, with Parc y Scarlets also making their stadium available.
The Principality Stadium in Cardiff and Celtic Manor Resort in Newport have also contacted the Welsh Government and NHS to offer their support.
Celtic Manor said it was already helping St Joseph’s Hospital with beds, linen and workers “to support the amazing NHS effort” and had donated 8,000 mini shampoos and body washes to the Royal Gwent Hospital.
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