Most operations have been cancelled at a hospital in a Covid-19 hotspot in south Wales after an outbreak of the virus involving more than 80 people.
Hospital chiefs said transmission had taken place within the Royal Glamorgan hospital at Llantrisant and some wards where patients and staff had been infected were closed.
The hospital, which is within Rhondda Cynon Taf, one of the areas under local lockdown restrictions, said it was trying to speed up the testing of patients and staff.
In a statement, it said: “Significant temporary service restrictions will be put in place at Royal Glamorgan hospital from 2pm Wednesday 30 September 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.”
Planned surgery is being suspended with the exception of a very small number of urgent cancer cases. Some adults needing emergency treatment will be sent to other hospitals in south Wales. The self-contained paediatric wards at Royal Glamorgan hospital will remain open. The hospital said the changes would be reviewed on a daily basis.
Paul Mears, the chief executive of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University health board, said: “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.
“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.”
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.”