THE critical incident declared yesterday by the ambulance service because of a high level of demand in south east Wales, is the "first visible sign of the impact of coronavirus on day to day care" as the second wave continues, said First Minister Mark Drakeford.

The declaration followed a plea from Aneurin Bevan University Health Board to patients, asking them not to “self-present” at the Grange University Hospital yesterday evening and overnight.

The Royal Gwent's minor injuries unit was also described by the health board as "extremely busy and under significant pressure".

A Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust statement warned that "some patients may wait longer for help, while others could be advised to make alternative arrangements if their call is not life-threatening".

Warning at today's Welsh Government coronavirus briefing that this was the "first visible sign of the impact of coronavirus on day to day care", Mr Drakeford described the pressure hospitals in Wales are under due to rising cases.

"Hospitals in some parts of Wales are now so full of patients with coronavirus, [last night] it simply was not possible for our ambulance service to attend to other people's emergencies in the way we would want," he said.

"The impact is absolutely real and making a difference in the care we were able to offer to people suffering strokes, or heart attacks, or having broken limbs.

"There are high numbers of deaths each day and each week."


Mr Drakeford said his thoughts are with "those families and friends who have lost loved ones to this awful virus".

"For all these reasons we must act now. It is for these reasons we must act now to strengthen our package of national measures, as we face the winter ahead," he added.

The rolling weekly case rate in Wales is now 252.7 per 100,000 population, against around 188 a week ago, and Mr Drakeford said case rates are rising in most areas.

There was a downturn in cases after the firebreak lockdown, he added, "but we are now experiencing an unmistakeable rise in coronavirus once again", with cases across all age groups..

"More and more people are being admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms," he said.

"We have a record number of people in hospitals [in Wales] and numbers are increasing. Many of them will be in hospital for three weeks or longer.

"This putting our NHS under significant and sustained pressure."