Eight patients die following Covid-19 outbreak at hospital

Eight people have died at a hospital in South Wales after 82 cases of coronavirus were identified there.

Temporary restrictions to services have now been put in place at Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant, including suspending planned surgery, with the exception of a small number of urgent cancer cases.

On Wednesday, the restrictions were brought in by Cwm Taf University Health Board at 2pm in an effort to help manage the outbreak, which has been linked to transmission within the hospital site.

Six patients are currently in intensive care at the hospital, which is in Rhondda Cynon Taf – one of the areas of Wales subjected to local lockdown restrictions.

On Wednesday, Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams said the Welsh Government was working with the health board and Public Health Wales to address the "issues" which have given rise to the outbreak.

She told the Welsh Government Covid-19 press briefing: "We understand that this is a serious situation and how upsetting it is for all those involved.

"We are working with the local health authority's senior management team and Public Health Wales to understand and, crucially, address the issues that have arisen at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital to bring that outbreak under control and learn the lessons of that so they can be applied in other healthcare settings."

She added: "The situation is a worrying one, and all steps are being taken to protect existing patients, staff, and to ensure that those residents that were due to leave the hospital are directed to appropriate care in other hospitals in the near vicinity."

The rise in cases at the hospital come one week after the health board said 34 cases of Covid-19 had been recorded across two of its wards, linked mainly to transmission within the site.

In a statement on Wednesday, the health board said that despite teams working to manage the outbreak, "additional cases linked to transmission within the hospital" had been confirmed in recent days.

Paul Mears, chief executive of the health board, said: "We recognise the concern that these temporary changes will cause and would like to assure our patients and communities that managing this outbreak is our key priority.

"Our teams continue to work to take all necessary measures to achieve this and 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."

Adult patients requiring an emergency admission following assessment will either be taken to the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, or the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

The emergency department at Royal Glamorgan Hospital will remain open for walk-in patients and those who can be treated within the department.

Welsh Ambulance Service patients, excluding children, will be diverted to the other hospitals.

The self-contained paediatric wards at the hospital will remain open, while the Tirion birthing centre is due to reopen on October 5.

A health board spokesman said it is working closely with Public Health Wales to increase the capacity and speed of testing and results for both patients and staff.

"These changes will be reviewed on a daily basis and decisions to restart emergency admissions at Royal Glamorgan Hospital will be made in conjunction with Public Health Wales," he said.

Andrew RT Davies, shadow health minister for the Welsh Conservatives, called on the Welsh Government to explore using field hospitals and other health facilities to alleviate pressure on the Royal Glamorgan.

He added: "This is very concerning, particularly as many of the additional cases are linked to transmission within the hospital, and so questions over processes and protocols must be asked."