A major outbreak of coronavirus at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant has forced bosses to cut services to bring it under control.
A total of 82 cases have been confirmed at the hospital, double the number a week earlier.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board announced on Wednesday, September 23, it was now taking ‘robust action’.
On Wednesday, September 30, planned surgeries have been temporarily suspended.
Patients who would usually be taken to A&E at the hospital in an emergency will also be sent elsewhere as part of the plan.
The temporary measures come into force at 2pm on Wednesday.
The latest cases and deaths figures show Rhondda Cynon Taf, which the Royal Glamorgan Hospital serves, has the third-highest level of Covid cases in Wales.
A major outbreak of coronavirus at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant has forced bosses to cut services to bring it under control as the trust says it is taking ‘robust action’
A statement from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said: ‘Significant temporary service restrictions will be put in place at Royal Glamorgan Hospital from 14.00 Wednesday September 30 as increased action is taken to contain a COVID-19 outbreak within the hospital.
‘Teams have been working at pace to implement robust measures to manage the outbreak, however additional cases linked to transmission within the hospital have been confirmed in recent days with the number of cases currently standing at 82.
‘Given the extent of this outbreak, and on advice of Public Health Wales, the Health Board is taking a number of urgent and significant actions to ensure the safety of our staff, patients and communities.’
The health board has taken a number of measures in a bid to control the outbreak.
All planned surgery at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, with the exception of a very small number of urgent cancer cases, have been suspended.
Adult patient requiring an emergency admission following assessment who would normally be admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital will be taken to either Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, or the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
The Emergency Department at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital will remain open for walk-in patients and those who can be treated in an area in the Emergency Department at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
Welsh Ambulance Service (999) patients (excluding children) will be diverted temporarily to alternative sites, namely Princess of Wales Hospital Bridgend, Prince Charles Hospital Merthyr Tydfil and University Hospital of Wales Cardiff.
The health board says there will be no change to the self-contained paediatric wards at Royal Glamorgan Hospital which will remain open.
The Tirion Birthing Centre, which has been temporarily closed during the pandemic, is due to re-open on October 5.
The hospital says it is currently working with the clinical teams to review that this can go ahead in light of the current situation at Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
The statement from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board added: ‘We are working closely with Public Health Wales to increase the capacity and speed of testing and results for both patients and staff.
‘The changes will be reviewed on a daily basis and decisions to re-start emergency admissions at Royal Glamorgan Hospital will be made in conjunction with Public Health Wales.’
Paul Mears, CEO of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University 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 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.
‘It’s important to state that Royal Glamorgan Hospital is still open for patients requiring emergency department services, although we would encourage everyone at this time to consider where alternative services can provide the care suitable for their needs such as the NHS 111 Wales website, minor injury units and GP services. Details can be found on our website.
‘We will provide further advice and guidance within the next 24 hours and will continue to communicate widely with our communities, patients, stakeholders and colleagues to ensure everyone is aware of the temporary changes and what this means for accessing services at Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
‘We remain grateful to all members of our community who are continuing to adhere to the guidance in order to help control the spread of this virus by wearing of facemasks, washing hands regularly and maintaining a 2m distance between people.’
Meanwhile more than 500,000 people in North Wales will be plunged into a local lockdown amid a spike in infections, the country’s health minister announced tonight.
From 6pm on Thursday, residents of Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham will be banned from mixing indoors with other households.
People will also not be allowed to enter of leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as work or education.
However, travel will be permitted through the affected areas to avoid cutting off motorists from getting to or out of Gwynedd and Anglesey on the A55.
The recent rise in coronavirus cases has been blamed on people socialising indoors.