Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board has warned it is facing an “increasingly challenging” situation due to the number of patients currently requiring hospital treatment in addition to high levels of staff sickness.
The health board, which covers Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil, three of the areas in Wales that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, has recorded 958 death due to the virus since March, 28% of the total for the whole of Wales.
According to Public Health Wales there have been close to 3,500 positive tests for COVID-19 across the health board in the last week and Bridgend and Merthyr have the highest case rates in the country.
Earlier this week there were 559 suspected, confirmed or recovering COVID-19 patients in Cwm Taf Morgannwg hospitals and officials said the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in ITUs across the board was at its highest since the first peak of the pandemic.
A statement issued by the health board said: “The festive period has been extremely challenging for our staff. Numbers of COVID-19 patients needing hospital treatment have risen substantially in the past few weeks and in recent days we have seen those numbers reach their highest for many months. Our services, including our intensive care units, are currently under the most severe pressure.
“Thanks to the dedication of our staff, many of whom have given up their leave over the festive break and volunteered to support their colleagues, and our recent decision to stand-down non-urgent services we are currently able to staff our departments. However, with rising numbers of both COVID and non-COVID patients needing care and treatment, combined with high levels of staff sickness, this is becoming increasingly challenging.
“We would like to pay tribute to our staff who are working incredibly hard to care for our patients as we face this unprecedented demand for our emergency services.
“We also need help from the public at this highly-difficult time. We would ask anyone who has a relative who is ready to be safely discharged from our hospitals to help get them home as quickly as possible, so they can continue their recovery in the comfort of their own surroundings and help us with capacity.
“We are also calling on the public to ensure they use services correctly if they feel unwell. You can visit NHS 111 Wales online or contact your local community pharmacist. If necessary, you can also contact your local GP. Please only call 999 or attend the Emergency Department for life-threatening symptoms.”
Meanwhile, Public Health Wales has confirmed 13 further deaths due to COVID-19 and 2,281 new cases of the virus in the last 24-hours.
Aneurin Bevan health board area recorded the highest number of new covid-related deaths with seven, followed by Hywel Dda with five.
The highest number of new cases in Wales were in Cardiff, where 262 people tested positive for the virus since yesterday. Swansea reported 219 cases yesterday and Carmarthenshire 187.
Bridgend has the highest weekly infection rate in Wales at 841.2 per 100,000 people, down from 949.3 yesterday and also has the highest proportion of positive tests for the virus over the week at 31.2% per 100,000 tests, up from 30.4% yesterday.