The number of patients being admitted to hospital and intensive care units with Covid-19 is rocketing in Wales
Latest figures from the Welsh Government show 550 beds were being used by confirmed, suspected or recovering coronavirus cases on Tuesday, September 29.
That was an increase from 343 beds the previous week and equated to 7% of all hospital admissions.
Some 191 beds were occupied with confirmed Covid-19 patients, the highest figure since the end of June and more than twice the level of the previous week, while 312 beds were occupied with suspected Covid-19 patients and 47 with recovering cases.
A total of 34 of the most severely ill coronavirus patients were on ventilators (invasive ventilated beds) on September 29. This compares to 164 at the peak in April but is the highest since June.
Dr Robin Howe, incident director for the novel coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, admitted he was concerned by the rise in hospital admissions.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of people who are seriously ill and have been admitted to hospital with Covid-19,” he confirmed.
“We are concerned that much of the good work conducted over the past few months is at risk of going to waste.
“If the situation continues to worsen, we may find ourselves at the same levels of infection that we experienced earlier this year in March and April, and with that comes the potential for more extended restrictions to be imposed nationally.”
The new statistics were released following an outbreak of coronavirus at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant which has led to many routine services being temporarily halted.
Patients who would usually be taken to A&E in an emergency will also be sent elsewhere, but walk-ins are still being accepted.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board previously confirmed that 60 of the 82 cases of the virus at the hospital were contracted on site. It said there were also eight deaths directly linked to infections from within the hospital. The number of cases at the hospital has since risen to 89, and the deaths to 10.
Currently there are six Covid-19 patients in intensive care at the hospital which are unrelated to the outbreak, although that figure has fallen by one since last week.
It’s understood the health board is now considering whether to admit patients to its temporary field hospital in Bridgend to boost bed capacity.
Paul Mears, the new chief executive of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, said: “We have taken a range of swift and decisive actions to try to manage this outbreak which include immediate closure of affected wards, risk assessments of affected and at-risk wards, reviews of infection prevention and control measures and their implementation, increased testing of healthcare staff and testing of all hospital admissions.
“These decisions have not been taken lightly, and we understand that they will impact our patients, their families, our staff and partner organisations. However, the safety of our patients and staff is of the utmost importance and we believe this is the right course of action, based on the professional advice given to us.
“It’s important to state that Royal Glamorgan Hospital is still open for patients requiring emergency department services, although we would encourage everyone at this time to consider where alternative services can provide the care suitable for their needs such as the NHS 111 Wales website, minor injury units and GP services.”
Meanwhile Keith Reid, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s director of public health, confirmed there had been a “small rise” in the number of Covid-19 positive patients at its hospitals, including in the intensive care unit.
However, he was unable to give an exact figure as the number remains low enough for there to be a risk of identifying patients.
“We must not let this lull us into a false sense of security,” he said.
“We know there is a two-week time lag between a rise in community cases and hospital admissions and that this slow rise in admissions follows the same pattern as we saw earlier in the pandemic.
“We also know the rise in cases in Swansea has accelerated above the rate seen in the rest of Wales. And, while infections are lower in Neath Port Talbot, we have significant concerns about the pattern we are seeing there.
“We remain extremely well prepared should there be a second surge in hospital admissions. Extensive changes were made to our hospitals and ways of working in the spring in accordance with the modelling data at the time.
“This included the transformation of outpatient waiting areas at Morriston Hospital to house dozens of critical care beds. We also have additional capacity at the Bay Field Hospital.”