Chief Medical Officer reiterates importance of establishment of separate coronavirus testing units at hospitals – local health board ‘taking all appropriate action required’
It is unclear whether Wrexham Maelor Hospital will see the creation of a dedicated unit to deal with possible coronavirus patients, with a similar unit created a week ago across the border in Chester.
This week the Chief Medical Officer has twice advised on the importance of immediate implementation of community assessment and testing services and the establishment of Coronavirus Testing Units separate from Emergency Departments.
On Tuesday the Health Minister issued a statement that referred to a letter sent by the Chief Medical Officer to health boards the previous day that revealed the advice in the public domain.
In the letter sent on Monday the Minister said the Chief Medical Officer advised “…on the importance of immediate implementation of community assessment and testing services and the establishment of Coronavirus Testing Units separate from Emergency Departments.”
A week ago we reported how the Countess of Chester Hospital opened a dedicated Coronavirus isolation area on site, meaning anyone presenting with symptoms would be dealt with away from the usual Emergency Department.
At the time we quoted a Countess of Chester Hospital spokesperson saying: “Following the recent Coronavirus outbreak in China we are putting in place a series of measures to mitigate any extra burden on our Emergency Departments and ensure the safety of all our patients and staff at the Trust.”
Yesterday the Chief Medical Officer repeated his position: “I wrote to the NHS earlier this week advising on the importance of immediate implementation of community assessment and testing services and the establishment of Coronavirus Testing Units separate from Emergency Departments.”
“Implementing community assessment and testing services allows for people with mild symptoms to remain self-isolated at home where they are attended by trained clinical professionals who can assess their health and undertake the necessary tests.
“The Coronavirus Testing Units will ensure that individuals who present to our acute hospitals because of concerns they are at risk can receive prompt assessment in an area separate from Emergency Departments. Both measures benefit the individuals without impacting on the day to day services provided by our NHS.”
On Tuesday after the letter in which the Chief Medical Officer apparently stated the importance of immediate implementation of Coronavirus Testing Units separate from Emergency Departments we asked Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board if there was any detail on if and when such a separate unit would be created at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, and if there was target opening date.
Subsequently we also pointed to the firm wording of ‘immediate implementation’ of separate units, noting that one had already been created and opened several miles north of Wrexham, and re-asked if the suggestions would be actioned as the Chief Medical Officer advised.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has told us, “There are currently no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Wales at this time.
“We are working closely with Public Health Wales, Welsh Government and the other UK public health agencies and are taking all appropriate action required to plan for possible cases.”
As of 2pm on Friday 14 February 2020 the UK Department of Health and Social Care states a total of 2,964 coronavirus tests have concluded: 2,955 were confirmed negative with 9 positive.
At the time of writing the Public Health Wales website ( https://phw.nhs.wales/ ) is not loading – showing a SSL error and an attempt to 302 temporary redirect to nhswalesproblem.azurewebsites.net , the same issue is also showing for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board site – a situation that has been in place most of the day.
UPDATE 3:07pm Public Health Wales have issued their now usual update, via the NHSDirectWales website:
Dr Robin Howe, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “Nine patients in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus. There are no confirmed cases in Wales, although it is likely that Wales will see cases at some point.
“We are working closely with the other UK nations, the Welsh Government, the wider NHS in Wales, and others to monitor the Novel Coronavirus outbreak in China, and have implemented our planned response.
“We are well prepared, with robust infection control measures in place to protect the health of the public.
“Members of the public can help protect themselves and others by always carrying tissues, and using them to catch coughs or sneezes. They should bin the tissue, and to kill the germs, wash their hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel. This is the best way to slow the spread of most germs, including Coronavirus.
“The Novel Coronavirus diagnostic test has now been developed in the Public Health Wales specialist virology laboratory at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. Public Health Wales’ trained scientists are now conducting the specialist test in Wales – ensuring we are well prepared should we see cases in Wales.
“All Welsh residents that meet the current testing criteria for Novel Coronavirus are being offered testing. As of Thursday 13 February, more than 100 people have been tested in Wales.
“Public Health Wales will not be commenting on whether any of the individuals who left Arrowe Park this week are resident in Wales. This is to ensure we protect patient confidentiality and their personal identities.
“Nevertheless, we can confirm that there is absolutely no coronavirus-related risk to the public from their departure. Everyone that left Arrowe Park has had negative tests and been in isolation for 14 days. We ask that you continue to respect their privacy.
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