Responding to the health minister’s press conference on Covid-19, Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said:
“There’s no denying Covid infection rates are rising rapidly in all parts of Wales, following the trajectory of the rest of the UK. Thanks to the Omicron subtype, recorded cases per 100,000 of the population have more than doubled in three weeks, with one in every 25 people likely to be infected.
“We understand people are ‘Covid-fatigued’ at this point in the pandemic, but the pressure on the NHS is still very real. As Covid infection rates are rising in our communities, so too are hospitalisations and NHS staff absences, with huge implications on capacity across the health and care system.
“Rates are likely to continue to rise, putting further pressure on the NHS and undermining attempts to tackle waiting lists. Pressures in social care also continue to impact patient flow with over 1,000 patients in hospital waiting to be discharged. These pressures are perhaps most visible in the ambulance service, but also have knock-on effects in the community and primary care settings where demand far outstrips capacity.
“None of us thought we’d be in this position two years on from the first lockdown. Staff, and volunteers, have been at the very heart of the Covid response, stepping up to help the people of Wales time and time again. We cannot thank them enough for their hard work through these near-impossible times.
“Even if legal Covid measures are lifted in Wales following the next three-week review, we must all take responsibility for our actions and continue to take protective measures where possible, including taking up the offer of vaccination. The spring booster programme began last week in Wales and we urge those eligible to come forward to boost their immunity.”