THE ROYAL Gwent has released its first five coronavirus patients from the hospital's critical care unit, a doctor working on the frontline has said.

Dr David Hepburn, who previously warned that the disease can "kill any of us", shared the good news on social media, saying that they have a "a way to go before recovery" but that they are "safe and on the mend".

The patients "were all ventilated, so as sick as you can be," he added.

The news comes as Tim Rogerson, an intensive care consultant at the Gwent, revealed that around half of the A&E staff at the Gwent had tested positive for covid-19 since the outbreak began.

Dr Hepburn returned to work at the Gwent at the start of April after contracting the virus himself.

And in an exclusive interview with the Argus, the intensive care consultant said the disease can spread "like wildfire" and has the potential to kill anyone who catches it, even if they are young and healthy.

"Some of them (the patients) are younger than I am, and they’re certainly not the frail, elderly people that some of us were led to believe we’d be seeing – they’re young, they’re fit, and they have young families, as do I."

On the news that the Gwent had released its first patients from intensive care, he added: "I'm so thankful. I hope we can keep it up."

South Wales Argus:

(Dr David Hepburn shared the good news on social media.)

READ MORE: Grieving wife praises community after husband's coronavirus death

Chief executive of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Judith Paget, added: "Such good news - well done to you and the ITU (Intensive Treatment Unit) team."

Dr Hepburn also revealed that he had seen a "big drop in non-covid cases," in the intensive care unit, adding that he was "worried as they've got to be out there somewhere".

He also wrote that the ITU "has slowly taken over huge chunks of the hospital".

"The management team in particular have been brilliant.

"Every challenge they've taken on and found solutions.

"I'm very proud to work for the ABUHB."

The health board has seen 1,550 confirmed cases of the virus, with 550 of those coming from Newport.

READ MORE: Westminster tells vital supply firms not to deal with Wales

He added: "This is the worst public health crisis we are ever likely to encounter. I’m sure it will get worse before it gets better. I’m so grateful that I have such an amazing clinical team and brilliant colleagues in all specialties who have been supportive and adaptable."

And Ms Paget praised the hospital's "team work".

"The team work has been truly impressive - a real ‘can do’ attitude right across primary community and hospital services and everyone doing everything they possibly can to help the service, patients and each other."