Covid outbreak in two north Wales hospitals

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Ysbyty Gwynedd
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One ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor has been affected by the outbreak

Two hospitals in north Wales have been hit with outbreaks of Covid.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board said it was managing the outbreak on two wards at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, and one at Ysbyty Eryri in Caernarfon, Gwynedd.

It said it was caring for 34 patients with Covid-19 infections across both sites, 14 of which are have confirmed hospital-acquired infections.

Affected patients are being isolated and wards are currently closed while visiting remains restricted.

The health board's executive director of nursing and midwifery Gill Harris said: "A programme of staff and patient testing is under way and our priority is to bring this outbreak to a close as soon as possible.

"In recent weeks, cases of Covid-19 have continued to increase in our community and we have seen a rise in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals needing treatment due to contracting the virus.

"This is a timely reminder that the virus has not gone away and we would urge anyone who has not received their vaccination to visit our website to book an appointment or visit one of our drop-in clinics."

She said the health board's emergency departments were also experiencing significant pressure

"We are seeing patients who are extremely poorly, many of who are elderly," she said.

"Only attend our hospital sites if it is absolutely necessary, to help us reduce the risk of infection.

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First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "Throughout the pandemic, when community rates of transmission rise, however hard the health service works - and it does work enormously hard - it is impossible to entirely prevent the spread of the virus into those vulnerable settings.

"The health service now has a tried and tested set of measures it immediately mobilises to try and minimise the impact of the virus once it gets into a closed setting like a hospital.

"Hospitals are full of vulnerable people and we know this cruel disease attacks the vulnerable, wherever they are most vulnerable and these will be difficult days in those settings in north Wales."

Meanwhile, Fforestfach Medical Centre in Swansea has had to temporary suspend routine in-person practice visits after several members of staff tested positive for Covid.

Swansea Bay health board said staff have continued seeing patients face-to-face if there was urgent clinical need.

Swansea and Neath Port Talbot currently have Wales' highest case rates.

In Swansea, 532.4 per 100,000 population has tested positive in the past seven days, while Neath Port Talbot's case rate is 458.4.

What has the reaction been?

The Welsh Conservatives said the hospital outbreak highlighted the need for a Wales-only independent public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic.

"We've constantly been told by Labour ministers that they are learning lessons from hospital-acquired infections, yet here we are a year-and-a half later with more troubling outbreaks, which have tragically accounted for a quarter of the COVID-related deaths in Wales," they said.

Plaid Cymru's Sian Gwenllian said the outbreaks were concerning while the area was under "increased pressure" from so many visitors to tourist hotspots. "These latest hospital outbreaks are a terrible reminder that Covid is not gone, and great care is still needed," she said.

She added with cases rising, it was "vitally important" the Welsh government continued engaging with people to encourage them to have the vaccine.