Second person dies from coronavirus in Wales

A second person in Wales has died after testing positive for Covid-19, the country’s chief medical officer has said.

Dr Frank Atherton said the patient, who was being treated in Swansea, was 96 years old and had underlying health conditions.

On Tuesday, Dr Atherton: “I’m sorry to report that a second patient in Wales who tested positive for Covid-19 has sadly died.

“I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their request for privacy is respected.

“The patient, who had underlying health conditions, was 96 years old and was being treated at the Morriston Hospital.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the Welsh Government’s health minister said he had self-isolated himself for 14 days after his son developed a cough.

Vaughan Gething said he will continue to work from home to lead the Welsh NHS’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Mr Gething said he was asking the public to self-isolate if anyone in their household developed a new cough or a high temperature.

“I’m in that category as my son has a new wheezy cough, so I’m not going to be in the Assembly for the foreseeable,” the Minister for Health and Social Services said.

“I’m following the advice we’re asking the public to follow as well. The objective in all the advice we’re giving is to delay the spread of coronavirus and to give our health service the opportunity to help save more lives.”

Earlier, Mr Gething’s Cabinet colleague, Julie James, said people in Wales are facing a series of “extraordinary measures” in the coming weeks to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

One person in their 60s, who had underlying health problems, has already died from the disease in Wales and more draconian action will be taken to minimise fatalities.

Public Health Wales said 12 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in the country, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 136.

Coronavirus in the UK
(PA Graphics)

Ms James said: “I know people are really worried, but if we work together we can face this together. The majority of people who get coronavirus will develop a mild illness, which they will recover from.

“However, we do know that some people are more at risk from developing a more serious illness and sadly some people have died.”

The minister echoed the advice from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who announced unprecedented peacetime measures to try to control the spread of Covid-19.

“We are also asking everyone to think about their daily lives and think about what steps they can take to reduce their interaction with large groups of people,” Ms James said.

“For most people, coronavirus will be a mild illness, but we believe these are the groups that are more at risk from developing a more serious illness.

“It is likely we will be announcing more extraordinary measures in the next week to protect more vulnerable groups.”

During a press conference in Cardiff, Ms James was asked whether she had “full confidence” in the Prime Minister’s approach to tackling the crisis.

We can confirm that 12 new cases have tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in #Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 136.

More here: https://t.co/OzjFW7ydN6pic.twitter.com/ADNPPfduOm

— Public Health Wales (@PublicHealthW) March 17, 2020

“We are involved in the Cobra meetings but we are taking our advice off our own chief medical officer and own chief scientific officer, and so far that has been in line with what the UK Government is saying,” she said.

“But just to be clear, we are very clear we are looking to see what is best for Wales at this point in time. We are co-operating with all nations for obvious reasons.”

The minister said the spread of the disease would affect the provision of public services in Wales, particularly by local government, many of which have been dealing with the aftermath of recent flooding.

“We will be taking additional time-limited powers through a four-nation Bill, which will help make our response more effective,” she said.

Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said bin collections could be reduced and libraries and swimming pools may close, with estimates that 20% of council staff could be off work at any time.

“As council staff potentially start going off work, our staff resources are going to be depleted, which is why we will draw up a list of services to try and protect, and over time other services may have to be reduced or stopped altogether,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has announced a £200 million package of support for small businesses.

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rate relief, and pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill.

A further £100 million will be available for a new grant scheme for small businesses.

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