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Covid Wales: All hospitals ask for masks as cases rise

BBC News – Health RSS Feed – World News
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A nurse with a mask

All of Wales’ seven health boards are either insisting or encouraging the use of face masks during hospital visits.

Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, has gone further by reinstating a temporary ban on visits.

Hywel Dda health board in west and mid Wales is the latest to require use of masks, following a rise in Covid infections.

Aneurin Bevan asked people to stay away from its hospitals unless “absolutely necessary” due to “extreme pressure”.

The health board did not mention Covid as a reason for this latest appeal.

Meanwhile, some year groups at Ysgol Aberconwy, Conwy, are receiving their lessons online from home this week due to staff absences relating to Covid.

More catching Covid in hospital

Wales has seen a rise in infections in the last month with one in 30 people testing positive, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

This is also reflected in a rise in patients testing positive for Covid in hospital – while more are catching it while in hospital.

However, the most recent figures still show 88% of patients testing positive for Covid are primarily being treated for something else.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg and Aneurin Bevan health boards, both in south Wales, asked people to wear masks at their hospitals last month, as did Betsi Cadwaladr health board which covers the north, and Swansea Bay health board.

Withybush General Hospital

Image source, Google

Cardiff and Vale health board followed suit.

Powys Teaching Health board has required visitors to wear face masks for some time.

Aneurin Bevan, which covers Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen and south Powys, said the emergency department at The Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran “remains very busy” on Monday evening.

It asked people to attend only if they have “a life-threatening illness or serious injury”.

Anyone with a less serious issue is asked to visit a minor injury unit in Newport, Abergavenny, Ystrad Mynach, or Ebbw Vale.

‘Reduce the risk’

Hywel Dda are now encouraging staff and contractors to have a lateral flow test, and report the result, twice a week.

“We have made the decision to reinforce these measures at Withybush Hospital to reduce the risk to our patients and staff,” said Mandy Rayani, director of nursing, quality and patient experience.

“We can all continue to take protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to protect vulnerable people and the NHS.

People are also asked to attend outpatient clinics alone at Withybush.

A designated partner can attend antenatal appointments or scans at Withybush Hospital midwifery-led unit and any visits considered necessary through agreement with a ward sister or charge nurse.

Monmouth GP Dr Rowena Christmas said Covid was “still very much with us” with six residents at one care home testing positive despite its “best interests to protect everyone”.

“We’ve got lots and lots of patients with symptoms which that could well be Covid,” she told Claire Summers on BBC Radio Wales.

“We’ve got staff members off sick again, testing positive.

“Right now if we could get our masks back on and, I hate to say this, but avoid hugs and kisses with anyone who isn’t our immediate contacts as much as you possibly can.”

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