Wales: Doctor outlines 'worry' on increased treatment demand
COVID-19 infections have spiked again across Wales, with some areas experiencing over 300 cases per 100,000 residents. Local health boards have warned the risk of a new wave of coronavirus could wash over the nation over the coming months, with NHS staff admitting they could soon begin to ration treatment. Dr Dave Jones, the clinical director of the Intensive Care Unite at Prince Charles Hospital, suggested the UK may soon have to put the pandemic alert level up to CRITCON 4 and “triage” who gets treatment.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Dr Jones said: “My worry next is that the numbers in the community that are coming into the hospital, the demand of intensive care will go on increasing.
“And we don’t have the resources to deal with that. At that point, we will move from being in CRITCON 3B into CRITCON 4, and CRITCON 4 is the most extreme level which is triage of treatment.
“Rationing is one of the parts of CRITCON 4 and, once you get to that level, it’s rationing of treatment.”
The physician added: “We’re extremely close to that right now.
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“It’s not a decision we’d make at a local level, it would have to come from the national level but we can’t see a way out of this at the moment if the numbers are increasing as they are.”
Wales emerged from a 17-day breakdown between October and November but saw its case rate overtake England’s at the end of last month.
According to the Welsh Government’s scientific advisory body TAG: “Wales has seen a greater increase in confirmed cases and mobility since the firebreak which suggests that hospital admissions and deaths may increase in the next 2-3 weeks depending on the age structure of cases.
“Deaths are currently as high as May, with the excess death rate in Wales higher than in England and Scotland over recent weeks, and tracking above our reasonable worst case.”
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Wales currently has the worst infection rate across the four nations, with the latest weekly figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reporting 218 coronavirus-related deaths in the region.
Dr Gill Richardson, the chair of the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine programme board, admitted she is “very definitely” concerned about a third wave of the pandemic washing over Wales.
Dr Richardson said: “We are all concerned.
“As we see cases rise, we know that the next thing that will happen will be hospital admissions and then ITU admissions and, of course, very sadly, deaths.
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“So it is an appeal that while the vaccine is incredibly good news, we need to keep adhering to social distancing – hands, face, space.”
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford earlier this week insisted the latest changes in coronavirus measures must be given the “opportunity to make a difference.”
Speaking in the Senedd on Tuesday, Mr Drakeford said: “We need them to be accompanied by actions that people can take in their own lives to assist communities right across Wales to get this virus back – the numbers falling once again.
“I don’t think that means that we will be taking further measures this side of Christmas.”
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