PATIENTS and visitors to Cardiff and the Vale’s hospitals have this week are once again being asked to wear face masks or face coverings – joining each and every health board in Wales in making this decision.

The move comes as a result of a rise in covid cases at this time – which is putting local health services at risk.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CAVUHB)’s decision this week brings them in-line with the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board – which covers both Newport and the wider Gwent area.

Here, the decision to reintroduce mask wearing for all hospital staff and visitors was made on June 21.

And, according to a representative from the health board, this measure will remain in place “until further notice”.

Continuing, they said that the decision to bring these measures back came as a result of “the increasing prevalence of Covid-19 in our communities and within our hospitals.”

While no timeline has been given for this situation changing, it has been confirmed that the situation will be reviewed over the coming weeks.

Statement from the health board in full

A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “On June 21, 2022, we made the decision to ask all hospital staff and visitors to wear masks in clinical areas until further notice, due to the increasing prevalence of Covid-19 in our communities and within our hospitals.

“We will be reviewing the situation over the coming weeks and, if necessary, will adjust our restrictions accordingly.”

It comes just weeks after the covid rules in and around hospital and healthcare settings were relaxed, which saw face masks become an option rather than mandatory.

But, with an estimated one-in-30 people in Wales currently having the virus, measures are currently being reintroduced.

How did we get here?

Earlier this year, following the success of the covid vaccine program and restrictions being put in place, the vast majority of covid restrictions were removed.

While this had the benefit of returning everyday life to an almost normal, the removal of restrictions allowed covid cases to slowly creep back up.

It is understood that the main culprit for the current rise is two subtypes of the omicron variant - BA.4 and BA.5.

At this time, omicron BA.5 is the dominant form of coronavirus across Wales.

South Wales Argus: Dr Frank AthertonDr Frank Atherton

The chief medical officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton said: “The pandemic has not gone away. While we are learning to live safely with it, we still need to think about taking the simple steps to help keep us safe and limit the spread of coronavirus.

“The successful roll-out of the vaccine has significantly reduced cases of serious illness, however the virus is still spreading quickly in our communities.

“People should still wear a facemask in health and care settings and in crowded indoor places and remember all the other simple steps they can take to stop the spread, particularly around more vulnerable people.

“Some of our hospitals are reporting increased Covid-19 cases and have taken the decision to restrict visiting at the moment. If you are visiting a health setting, please wear a mask and if you are feeling unwell please only visit an emergency departments if it is a real emergency. You can get advice from NHS Wales 111 on the phone or online and your local pharmacist can also provide advice and medicine.”