‘Remarkable’ good weather helping coronavirus fight says First Minister – but fears second wave could hit in autumn
The First Minister of Wales has expressed concern that the coronavirus could return more aggressively later this year.
Speaking to Deeside.com sister site North.Wales via Zoom on Friday, Mark Drakeford said the recent good weather helped contain the first wave of the outbreak.
The three field hospitals established in North Wales have not been used as much as expected to date.
We therefore asked him if they would feature in the Welsh Government’s plans to combat COVID-19 moving forward.
In response, Mr Drakeford described it as “lucky” that the facilities were not required during the initial peak.
He said: “It will be, I think, a very foolish thing to conclude that we wouldn’t need them in the autumn.
“One of the things that the Chief Medical Officer worries about and says to me and to Vaughan (Gething, Health Minister) all the time is, we’ve had the virus at the point in the year when the climatic conditions have been on our side.
“The days have been getting longer, we had a remarkable period in April and May with so much good weather.
“But this is a virus that likes the dark, it likes the damp, it likes the cold, and it might behave differently in a more aggressive way in the autumn, than it has in the spring.
“We can’t not have that safety net provision there in case you need it.”
The leader of the Labour Party in Wales revealed the number of patients requiring critical care during the first peak of the virus was less than anticipated.
The figure was also low in comparison to other parts of the UK, including England and Scotland.
Mr Drakeford said the reasons were not yet known, but hopefully indicated the country was taking the right approach.
He said: “We started off with an expectation that a certain proportion of hospital admissions would turn into critical care.
“The figures were lower than we expected. A smaller number of hospital admissions actually needed critical care than we thought back in March.
“For reasons that we will need to understand better, the conversion rate from hospital admissions to critical care is lower in Wales than England or in Scotland.”
The minister said it was possible that how Welsh patients are treated on ordinary wards is preventing them from needing critical care.
He also hypothesised that it could be due to hospitals here taking in people who may have been left at home in England or Scotland.
He said: “Whatever the reason, fewer people who are going to hospital end up in a critical care bed, and that means we’re going to factor that into our planning for any second wave that might happen in the autumn and that will make a difference to how we deploy our field hospitals.
“We have also learnt a lot in the last two and a half months about the interplay between hospital discharges and care home admissions and we might want to think about whether there is anything a field hospital might play at that interface if we would have a second wave.
“We’ll review the number of beds we need to keep in field hospitals. It’s really important we have that resource in reserve for the autumn.”
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