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Patient in their 60s first to die from coronavirus in Wales

Earlier PHW said a further 30 people have tested positive for coronavirus.

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Covid-19 swabs in the microbiology laboratory inside the Specialist Virology Centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA)

Covid-19 swabs in the microbiology laboratory inside the Specialist Virology Centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA)

Covid-19 swabs in the microbiology laboratory inside the Specialist Virology Centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA)

A person in their 60s has become the first to die from coronavirus in Wales, Public Health Wales has said.

The patient died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and had underlying health problems.

On Monday Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “The chief medical officer has today confirmed the death of a Welsh resident who had tested positive for novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Coronavirus cases in Wales
(PA Graphics)

“Public Health Wales offer our sincere condolences to family and friends affected by this loss.

“We can confirm that this is the first death in Wales from novel coronavirus (Covid-19) infection.

“The individual, who was in their sixties and had underlying health conditions, sadly passed away at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

“No further details regarding this individual will be released, and we ask those reporting on the situation to respect patient confidentiality.”

In a statement, Dr Frank Atherton, the chief medical officer for Wales, said the patient was 68 and offered his “sincere condolences” to their family.

Dr Atherton said: “It is with regret that today I am confirming a patient in Wales has sadly died after contracting Covid-19. I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their request for privacy is respected.

“The patient, who had underlying health conditions, was 68 years old and was being treated at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford said following the announcement: “I am deeply saddened that a person in Wales who had coronavirus has died. My heartfelt condolences are with their family and friends.

“We continue to work hard to respond to this fast-changing situation, as the impact of the virus continues to increase in the days and weeks ahead.”

Wales’s health minister Vaughan Gething said decisions around tackling the spread of coronavirus need to be “based on evidence” in order to save lives.

Speaking to reporters outside the Cabinet Office ahead of an emergency Cobra committee meeting on Monday, he said Wales’s first reported death from the disease “underscores the challenge” facing the country.

He said: “It also for me reinforces the need to make choices based on evidence to try to save as many lives as possible.

“There is no single easy answer.”

Rise in coronavirus cases
(PA Graphics)

Mr Gething added: “Unfortunately, expect more lives to be lost in the coming weeks and months.”

Following the emergency meeting, the First Minister repeated Mr Gething’s fears of further deaths, and said “dramatic and draconian measures” would be put in place to protect those most vulnerable to the disease.

These include a “sub-group” of people whose immune systems are particularly compromised, who Mr Drakeford said would be contacted by healthcare professionals in the next week and asked to self-isolate for between 13 and 16 weeks.

Mr Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff: “These are people who will be asked to remain in their own homes, not to go to work, not to attend gatherings, not to go shopping, not to do all the normal things that they would expect to do in their lives.

“All of these measures are designed to save lives. ”

Mr Drakeford said there would be further discussions among the UK’s four administrations on measures to help businesses survive the economic impact of people being urged not avoid non-essential travel.

Earlier, PHW said a further 30 people have tested positive for coronavirus.

The number of confirmed Welsh cases now stands at 124, with the Swansea area having the highest concentration, with 19% of the total.

Dr Shankar said: “We can confirm that 30 new cases have tested positive for novel coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 124.”

He added: “We are working with our partners in the Welsh Government, the wider NHS in Wales and others, now that we have entered the ‘delay’ phase.

“This is now not just an attempt to contain the disease, as far as possible, but to delay its spread.”

PHW said the residential areas of 12 of Monday’s confirmed cases were not yet available, but as of Monday the Swansea local authority area had 23 confirmed cases, Caerphilly and Newport had 14, and the capital Cardiff had 11.

This is now not just an attempt to contain the disease, as far as possible, but to delay its spreadDr Giri Shankar, Public Health Wales

Only the local authority areas of Denbighshire and Gwynedd in North Wales and Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales had not registered a confirmed case.

Meanwhile, the Wales secretary of the National Education Union Cymru said he welcomed plans to suspend the education inspectorate Estyn from carrying out school inspections during the outbreak.

Teachers have been advised by school leaders to prepare online lessons for pupils in the event they have to learn from home, but the Welsh Government has said schools will remain open for the time being.

David Evans said: “We welcome the chief inspector’s plans to suspend Estyn’s activities here in Wales. It is a rapidly developing and challenging time, especially for those working in education.

“Not having to worry about an Estyn inspection will be welcomed by our members.

“We welcome the pragmatic approach of the chief inspector, and hope that schools and colleges will receive all the support they need at this critical time.”

PA