Thirty more people have died with coronavirus in hospitals run by Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board – bringing the total to 99.
The health board confirmed on Tuesday that 186 positive cases have been linked to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant and 51 patients have died.
In the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, 137 cases of the virus have been identified and there have been 22 deaths, while at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil there have been 96 cases and 20 deaths to date.
There have also been further cases at smaller regional hospitals including Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda in Llwynypia (26) and Maesteg Hospital (24).
Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB added that six people have now died with coronavirus at Maesteg Hospital, bringing the overall total in the health board to 99.
However the figure is likely to be higher than this as the health board aren’t disclosing the small number of patients who have died at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda due to the potential impact on patient privacy.
Opposition parties have previously called for an inquiry into hospital acquired infections in the health board.
Following a temporary halt, patients who require emergency treatment at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital are now being admitted.
In addition, the health board added that surgical and other planned activity is restarting at the hospital in a “phased and safe way”.
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Medical director Dr Nick Lyons said: “As these numbers very clearly suggest, we are facing some difficult times across our university health board as we head into winter.
“Infection rates in our communities continue to rise at a pace and that in turn increases the number of patients with Covid being admitted to our hospitals. This is having a profound effect on us being able to manage capacity in our hospitals and on us keeping our patients and staff safe.
“We have a rigorous testing programme in place for all in-patients at our hospitals, as well as routine staff testing, and we continue to work with Public Health Wales to contain the outbreaks at our sites. I am immensely proud of our staff who, at the front line of dealing with this virus, continue to demonstrate their commitment by working tirelessly under incredibly difficult conditions.
“We are appealing to everyone in our communities to sustain the efforts made during the first wave of Covid earlier this year, and not let standards slip.
“We must all take personal responsibility to adhere to any lockdown restrictions, social distance, maintain good hygiene and wear a mask as required. This not only helps us keep our staff and patients safe, but is also really important to keep your families and loved ones safe as well.”
Speaking during the Welsh Government’s press conference on Tuesday, NHS chief executive Dr Andrew Goodall admitted that coronavirus can “rapidly and easily” enter a closed setting like a hospital.
Dr Goodall said there were 192 cases of “probable” or “definite” cases of hospital transmission across Wales last week alone. This is equivalent to one in 40 of the confirmed cases reported nationally.
“We regret every case of hospital-acquired Covid. But I want to be clear, this is not as simple as a failure of hand-washing or poor infection control procedures,” he said.
“This virus is highly infectious and it can be passed on in the asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic and symptomatic phases of the infection.
“It is incredibly difficult to prevent its spread in busy healthcare environments, especially with around 90 people with Covid currently admitted each day.”
He added: “Everyone admitted to hospital is tested and 6% currently have Covid on admission.
“The rate has been highest in Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board where community transmission is also at its highest.
“But even here, hospital transmissions account for just 3% of the total cases in the area.
“Despite hospital transmissions, over 85% of our available beds do not have coronavirus patients, so care remains safe for the vast majority needing to access hospital.”