Health board bans non-essential hospital visits due to threat of Omicron variant

By Ryan O'Neill

A health board has banned all non-essential visits at its hospitals due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said it would be operating essential-only visits from Monday, January 10, due to "the increasing challenges faced as a result of the new Omicron variant".

In a statement on its social media on Sunday evening the health board said it had made the decision "in order to protect the safety of patients and staff."

It comes after Wales reported 8,923 new positive coronavirus cases on Sunday, January 9. Read the latest update here.

Read more: Mark Drakeford gives update on Omicron peak and restrictions in Wales

The health board said essential visits will be supported "wherever possible" and would include:

• a birth partner supporting a woman during hospital visits and during labour;

• a person receiving end-of-life care and in their final hours;

• supporting someone with a mental health issue, dementia, autism, or a learning disability where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed;

• accompanying a child who is required to attend hospital;

• situations when someone is receiving information about life-changing illness or treatments.

The changes do not include paediatrics and neonates where a maximum of two visitors per day is recommended.

"Aneurin Bevan University Health Board appreciates how important it is for patients and their loved ones to see each other whilst they are receiving care in hospital. We need to carefully balance this with the risk to patients, family members, and staff that visiting brings whilst Covid is so rife in the community," a health board statement read.

"Due to the increasing challenges faced as a result of the new Omicron variant and in order to protect the safety of patients and staff, the health board will now be operating essential-only visiting from Monday, January 10.

"All visitors must not have any symptoms of Covid-19 and must provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test result. Additionally they must wear a face mask (unless exempt) and adhere to physical distancing and hand hygiene requirements.

"Any visiting arrangements must be arranged with the ward in advance and any visitors attending the hospital without pre-arrangement will not be permitted entry."

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