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‘Serious’ coronavirus situation in Swansea/Neath Port Talbot

PEOPLE with coronavirus symptoms, however mild, must self-isolate and get a test because health and social care services in Swansea Bay are starting to get overwhelmed.

Dr Keith Reid, director of public health at Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “We are now in a very serious situation in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

“Covid-19 is affecting our communities significantly, and this is impacting the way that health and social care services are run.”

If you have symptoms of the virus, the rest of your household should also self-isolate until the test result is known. They can come out of isolation if the test is negative – but must isolate for 14 days if the test comes back positive.

Dr Reid said habits were hard to break.

“We know from recent cases that people in Swansea Bay are still meeting up with others that they do not live with, which is helping the virus spread,” he said.

“During this firebreak lockdown we should only be meeting with people we live with unless living alone or we have child sharing arrangements.”

Other measures such as social distancing and hand hygiene must also be observed.

The warning comes as:

– 40 people have died from Covid-19 in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot in four weeks up to November 3

– Hospital staff are treating 166 patients with the virus, some under the age of 40, and some in intensive care

– Capacity to deal with non-Covid patients is becoming more and more constrained

– The number of cases per 100,000 population is now 385.4 in Swansea and 344 in Neath Port Talbot, more than double a fortnight ago

– Neath Port Talbot Council has suspended day services and respite for services for at least two weeks following outbreaks among users and staff

– Swansea has more than 100 local authority residential beds occupied at the moment and in September alone had 652 new inquiries seeking support.

Dr Reid added: “It is important that you know the virus is not just affecting older and vulnerable people.

“There are patients under 40 years old who are in hospital with Covid-19.”

He added that local Test, Trace and Protect teams were straining to match demand.

Andrew Jarrett, director of social services at Neath Port Talbot Council, said he understood the suspension of day services and respite would place pressure on families and carers.

He added: “Homecare and residential care services are also under increasing strain, as more and more staff have to isolate, either because they have become infected or because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

“We will continue to provide these essential services as best we can to help keep our communities safe – but we cannot do this without you.”

Dave Howes, Swansea Council’s social services director, said “we are in for a long and difficult winter”, and added that more staff were being recruited.

“But I can’t stress this enough, we need the public to do their bit to help break the spread of the virus,” he said.

Dr Reid said the virus was also spreading in workplace canteens, break rooms and shared vehicles.

He said: “It’s easy to fall back into old routines but coronavirus doesn’t go away while we’re at work.

“We still need to stay two metres apart, wear face coverings where needed and keep our hands clean.

“We need your support to get through this second wave and to give us the best possible chance to continue providing the system of critical local support services for our most vulnerable residents.”

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