AROUND 50 per cent of A&E workers at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport have “swabbed positive” for the coronavirus, says a doctor working on the frontline.

In an appeal asking for the people of Gwent to “stay home and protect the NHS” during the Bank Holiday weekend, A&E Consultant Dr Tim Rogerson revealed around half of his department’s workforce have tested positive since the outbreak began.

“We are probably up to around 50 per cent of the consultant workforce at the Gwent in A&E who have swabbed positive for the coronavirus and a similar per cent in our nursing team,” he said

“This has obviously happened despite all the PPE we have got and all the hand washing we are doing, but it is probably just a likely thing that’s going to happen when faced with such numbers of patients coming in with coronavirus.

“But it is proving a challenge when it is coming to staffing the department when we are facing these numbers coming through.”

The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board – which covers Gwent – has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,453.

And Newport is the worst-affected within the region, with over 500 cases.

Dr Rogerson said he had tested positive for covid-19 himself after being swabbed at a staff testing facility, which was “ruthlessly efficient”.

“Sadly, I have been off since Sunday (April 5) with pretty much the full house of symptoms of coronavirus: the fever, the aches, the sort throat and a lack of sense of smell."

“I think, talking to other colleague I have had a mild to moderate set of symptoms.

“I know some of my colleagues in A&E have been quite sick and been off for a couple of weeks.

“So, I think that is probably a blessing to get started with, but I am obviously frustrated not to be in work.”

Read more: Locations of confirmed cases of coronavirus

Read more: Eighteen more die with coronavirus as cases pass 5,000

And as temperatures are set to reach 19 degrees celcius in Gwent today, with the warm weather continuing into Easter Monday, he has pleaded with the public to obey social distancing rules.

“The sun is going to be shining, people are going to be tempted to breach the guidance around social distancing, but what people do this weekend will have an effect on our ICU (intensive care unit) capacity in two weeks’ time.

“It will have an effect on staff being put at risk and being exposed to coronavirus."“Ultimately, it is going to effect the capacity of the whole hospital system.

“Although it is difficult this weekend, we do really want people to comply with the guidance. Stay at home and protect the NHS.”