Posted: Thu 6th Aug 2020

“Events at the Maelor are now well under control” says First Minister, with “all staff at the hospital being tested” for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

The First Minister has said the coronavirus outbreak at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital is ‘well under control’, and has revealed all staff will be tested.

The details emerged as Paul Davies MS, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives and others, quizzed the First Minister Mark Drakeford over local issues in yesterday’s Plenary session in the Senedd after a statement on coronavirus in Wales.

Mr Davies asked: “Wrexham Maelor Hospital has recently seen a spike in cases and has the highest recorded number of cases per 100,000 population in Wales.

“First Minister, clearly there’s an issue with infection control in north Wales, and that is under a health board in your Government’s direct control. Can you therefore tell us why the infection rates in Wrexham Maelor Hospital have increased recently?

“Can you also tell us what immediate actions you are taking to address the increase in infection rates in Wrexham Maelor Hospital, given that you say you are taking some actions?

“Can you reassure the people of north Wales that these outbreaks will now be contained, given that you are directly responsible for the delivery of health services in that area?”

The First Minister replied:”I want to be clear that actions have already been taken at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

“The position has stabilised, as I said in my statement. There were 76 cases in the previous seven days, and that had fallen to 27 in the last seven days—a 64 per cent fall.

“Across Wrexham, the incidence rate, which on the 26th July was 61.8 per 100,000, has fallen to 19.9 in the last seven days, and continues to fall.

“So, the position in Wrexham has been significantly brought under control, and continues to improve, and that is because of the actions that the hospital itself has taken—mandating use of face masks, new physical screening installed, a single point of entry for the public, and testing of all patients on arrival, by whatever route they arrive at the hospital.

“When those patients are screened, those who are suspected of having coronavirus are transferred to a side room on a COVID-positive ward and are nursed by a separate nursing team.

“Those with no symptoms are cohorted until swab results are available. Patients with a positive result are placed on a COVID-positive ward, and patients with a negative result are transferred to general bed use.

“As far as staff are concerned, all staff at the Maelor hospital are being tested. Six hundred of those tests are already booked.

“Staff are restricted in movements across the hospital, agency staff are restricted to particular wards, and thousands of additional items of PPE have been provided at the hospital—a comprehensive suite of measures, with more measures being added every day, and as I said, the success of those measures is already evident.”

Andrew Davies MS, the former leader of the Welsh Conservatives also referenced Wrexham in the session regarding masks, saying: “In your statement, you touch on the point about Wrexham Maelor, and the outbreak in Wrexham Maelor, and that has been a focus of considerable energy.

“Why hasn’t the Government assisted the health board and Public Health Wales in making it mandatory for people to wear face masks in settings such as hospitals and care homes, where the evidence clearly shows that that will be of assistance?

“Public Health Wales and the health board have made that request, but the Government does not seem to have backed that request with firm action. Can you explain why is that the case, please?”

The First Minister said: “To be clear, face masks are compulsory in the Wrexham Maelor, and have been since the outbreak was declared, and the view of the Welsh Government is that face masks should be used where there is a clinical case for doing so.

“There isn’t a clinical case for wearing them in places where the virus is in such suppressed circulation that they do not add anything material to people’s protection, but where there is a case, a clinical case, for them being used, of course they should be used, and they are in the Maelor because of the situation there.”

Labour’s Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant also mentioned the situation in North Wales.

He said: “I’ve been contacted by residents with family members who have contracted coronavirus whilst in hospital. As you can imagine, they are quite rightly scared and angry.

“Now, First Minister, this has happened more in North Wales than anywhere else, and people need to know that they are safe when they do go to hospital.

“Can you ask your officials to speak to the health board to ask them to review the procedures in north Wales, with an aim to making sure that this never happens in the future?”

The First Minister stated: “I understand and sympathise with those people who have relatives in hospital and who are afraid of contracting coronavirus when they are there.

“The facts of the matter are, actually, that that has been more a feature of south Wales, and south-east Wales in particular, than any other part of Wales, including the north. I give Jack Sargeant an absolute assurance that my officials are in daily contact with the outbreak control team at the Wrexham Maelor.

“I have met them myself twice with the health Minister in the last five days, to hear of the work that they are doing to make sure they’ve got all the help and advice that they need.

“I think the encouraging news is that the position at the hospital has stabilised, that the number of new infections has been low in recent days, and with all the actions that have already been taken, I think that patients can have growing confidence that the events at the Maelor are now well under control.”

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