Two more people have died in Wales after contracting coronavirus – taking the total number of deaths during the epidemic in the country to five.
A 75-year-old died at Singleton Hospital in Swansea and a 98-year-old passed away at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd Hospital in Denbighshire, Public Health Wales said.
This week, three other deaths were announced – one person aged in their 60s, and two others aged 71 and 96 respectively. They died in hospitals in Swansea, Bridgend and North Wales.
All five had underlying health conditions.
The @CMOWales has today confirmed the death of two Welsh residents who had tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
— Public Health Wales (@PublicHealthW) March 21, 2020
Public Health Wales said 89 more people had tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total to 280.
Cases by health board, are:
– Aneurin Bevan: 145
– Cardiff and Vale: 51
– Swansea Bay: 41
– Hywel Dda: 14
– Cwm Taf: 9
– Powys: 9
– Betsi Cadwaladr: 8
– Others: 3
The rise in fatalities came as the Welsh Government announced a series of measures aimed at tackling the Covid-19 crisis, including bringing doctors and nurses out of retirement and increasing testing.
Opening hours of pharmacies are also being restricted to protect staff from infection, Vaughan Gething, the minister for health and social services said.
He also reassured health and social care workers there would be enough personal protective equipment (PPE) available for those who need it.
Mr Gething, who was self-isolating because his son had developed a cough, revealed plans to increase testing for coronavirus with capacity to complete 9,000 a day in Wales by the end of April.
Watch: Health and Social Care Minister @vaughangething give an update on the latest measures introduced in Wales, to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Including closing cafes, bars, restaurants, and gyms.
We can, and must, take these steps together. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/Qnn4SOOuYt
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) March 21, 2020
Speaking on Saturday, Mr Gething said: “Last night, further measures were announced to try and slow down the spread of coronavirus.
“Cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants, gyms and theatres are being closed because we need to reduce the number of places where people can gather in numbers and to reduce the opportunities for the virus to spread.
“That is not an easy decision to make and the impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods are enormous.
“Our priority is to protect people’s health and ultimately to save lives.
“Our decisions are of course being informed by the latest scientific advice and modelling about the speed in which the virus is spreading.”
Under the scheme to increase staffing in the NHS and social care sector in Wales, final-year students will be offered work, and already more than 5,000 letters have been sent to retired professionals.
People who have left or retired in the last three years will be urged to re-register with their relevant professional bodies and asked what role they could play and how much time they can dedicate.
The plans are part of the extensive work to prepare the NHS and social care sector to provide expert care for the predicted number of people who are likely to need care as a result of contracting Covid-19.
Chief nursing officer Jean White said: “These are extraordinary times, which call for extraordinary measures to be taken to respond to the health needs of the people of Wales.
“I am appealing to all health professionals who are able to help at this time to make themselves available – our National Health Service needs you. Wales needs you.”
Public Health Wales now has capacity for more than 800 tests per day. From April 1, this will increase by a further 5,000 tests per day to a total of 6,000 daily.
By April 7, this will increase by a further 2,000 tests per day and by the end of April there will be capacity for 9,000 tests a day.
“I would like to remind everyone that self-isolation and social distancing are absolutely fundamental at this stage if we are to delay the spread of this virus,” Mr Gething added.
“We all need to follow this advice now to protect each other and our families and to help ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed with cases.”