People left 'scared' as 23 deaths recorded in Covid outbreaks at three hospitals under Cwm Taf health board

People have been left "scared" as the number of deaths related to Covid-19 outbreaks in Cwm Taf hospitals increases to 23.

The MP for Pontypridd, Alex Davies-Jones, said local people are concerned after Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board confirmed that a further eight people have died at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant, bringing the total to 21.

One death has now been recorded in the outbreak at the Prince Charles Hospital and the health board also revealed they are monitoring another outbreak, this time at the Princess of Wales Hospital. One person has died there too.

Cases at the Royal Glamorgan hospital also continue to rise to 127 while there is now 17 confirmed cases at the Prince Charles Hospital and 15 at the Princess of Wales.

Medical Director for the Cwm Taf health board, Dr Nick Lyons, said he expects the number of cases and deaths to rise even more but it is too soon to predict how large that increase will be.

Temporary restrictions to some services remain in place at the Royal Glamorgan while the health board said "immediate measures to contain the spread of the virus have been taken" at the two other sites.

There has been one death related to the Covid-19 outbreak at the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil. Credit: ITV Wales

Alex Davies-Jones MP said she knows that people in the area "are scared" at what is happening at their local hospital.

Ms Davies-Jones said that it is the "selfish actions of a small minority" that are causing the virus to spread.

"I would urge everyone to treat this as a huge wake-up call", she said.

"We've all got to keep social distancing, we've got to keep washing our hands and we've got to wear a mask.

"We all know what we've got to do, we've been doing it for the past six or seven months now but unfortunately there are a few who aren't and that's what's causing this virus to spread and people to die."

She and other politicians in the area are meeting with health board officials on Thursday morning to discuss how they are managing the outbreaks.

Ms Davies-Jones said it is the "selfish actions of a small minority" that are responsible for spreading the virus.

Speaking to ITV Wales, Medical Director for Cwm Taf health board Dr Nick Lyons said he expects numbers related to the outbreaks to increase further but it is too soon to make specific predictions.

He said that the outbreaks at the Princess of Wales and Prince Charles hospitals are "significantly smaller than at the Royal Glamorgan" and they are working with Public Health Wales to "closely monitor" coronavirus cases at all three hospitals.

It is their "close scrutiny" of hospitals that he said is part of the reason they have identified outbreaks, saying that just "two patients" constitutes as an outbreak by definition.

Dr Lyons added that it was important people still sought "appropriate" medical help if they are ill, whether that is emergency care or seeing their GP for instance. Temporary changes to services at the Royal Glamorgan should not deter people from getting the help they need.

Dr Lyons said in a statement released by the health board that "the safety of our patients and staff remains our first priority and immediate measures to contain the spread of the virus have been put in place.

"We are taking the outbreaks extremely seriously and the stringent and robust mitigating actions which have been taken across our sites are being closely observed. However given the nature of coronavirus, there is an inevitable time delay in when we will see the positive impact of these measures."    

He also apologised to families and the local communities affected by the outbreaks.

As infection rates rise, he also pleaded for "members of the public to take seriously" their behaviour and ensure it does not contribute to the further spread of the virus.

The Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend also now has 15 coronavirus cases at the site and has recorded one related death. Credit: ITV Wales

Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, Andrew Morgan, said he understands that local people are "very concerned". Cllr Morgan said he is in daily contact with the health board and an "incident management team" has been set up to deal with the outbreaks.

He added that staff are now tracking every case to see how they could have been acquired while in hospital and to see if there is "something they are missing".

Mass-testing is also underway with staff and patients.

Mr Morgan described the outbreaks as a "reminder to us all" of how bad things were at the worst point in the pandemic. He said he hopes we can turn things around in time so we do not end up back where we were a few months ago.

Temporary restrictions reman in place at the Royal Glamorgan. These include the suspension of elective surgeries - apart from a small number of urgent cancer cases and adult emergency admissions are still being diverted to other hospitals.

A helpline has been set up for anyone affected by the outbreak at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Members of the public can call 01685 726 464 between 9am and 4:30pm, Mon to Fri.