Nearly 1,500 staff members across the health board in Gwent are currently off sick or isolating, as the latest wave of covid continues to cause chaos across Wales.

As a result of the omicron variant, and covid-19 as a whole, there are currently 1,322 members of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board staff currently absent from work.

It is understood that this represents nearly nine per cent of the total workforce.

And, to cope with the levels of absence, some elective procedures have been postponed by the health service at this time.

It comes in a week where a minor injury unit was forced to close its doors early, as a result of staff shortages.

On Monday (January 3), the minor injuries unit at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr was forced into this drastic course of action.

But, bosses at the health board have stressed that all clinically urgent surgery has continued as normal.

However, they have been unable to rule out further disruption should covid cases continue to rise – with the situation being monitored closely and reviewed on what has been described as “a daily basis”.

Once again, members of the public have been asked to follow national guidelines in terms of keeping themselves, and those around them safe from the potentially deadly virus.

What’s more, people are being urged to only use 999 and accident and emergency departments if they are truly needed, with the 101 facility, GP practices, and minor injury units also available to ease the burden on critical care in Newport, and the wider Gwent area.

Health board statement in full

A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: "Like the rest of Wales and the UK, we are experiencing higher than normal staff sickness levels due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in the community. The positivity rate of those people tested for Covid-19 in the Health Board area is at 48.6% over the past 7 days – an increase of 22.5% in comparison to the previous 7 days.

"Because of staff absences, combined with an extraordinary high demand for our services, we have had to postpone some elective procedures but all clinically urgent surgery has continued as normal. It is inevitable that if Covid-19 cases continue to rise then there will be more disruption to our services and we are reviewing this situation on a daily basis.

“We currently have more than 100 patients in our hospitals with Covid-19 and this number has almost doubled in the past week.

"To help protect the NHS, we would appeal to local people to adhere to the national guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus in our communities - minimise contact with other people, social distance, wear masks and get vaccinated.

“We are continuing to ask the public to only consider visiting our hospitals if absolutely essential. We would advise that people should consider visiting their local pharmacist, contact their GP surgery, or call NHS 111 for help and advice.

“Thank you to all of our amazing staff, who are continuing to work extremely hard to care for patients, and also to local people for their understanding, co-operation and support.”