‘Second wave almost certain’, says executive director of primary care at Betsi Cadwaladr as he talks about future response

A SECOND wave of Covid-19 infections is “almost certain”, according to a health board director.

Dr Chris Stockport made the stark admission at Betsi Cadwaladr’s virtual health board meeting on Thursday.

The executive director of primary care and community services was responding to a question from independent board member Helen Wilkinson, who asked about the likelihood of a second wave of coronavirus hitting North Wales.

Dr Stockport told the meeting: “A second wave is almost certain. Much of the reduction [in transmission] has been because of a lockdown of individual activities.

“As we return to normality, which is essential in terms of economic activity and mental health, it makes [a second wave] more likely.

“It’s more likely to be local and we may need to react at a more granular level to respond to it.”

He said the board had to plan to be able switch services on and off in the event of a second wave of infections to cope with any localised spikes in demand.

Dr Stockport added communication and engagement with the public was going to be ‘critical’ when a second wave comes.

Rainbow Hospitals will be kept available. There is potentially 1,315 Covid bed spaces.

The temporary hospitals, set up in Bangor, Llandudno and Deeside, cost £25m to set up and an audit into how the money was spent is being conducted.

In an update report on the pandemic, presented to the board, Dr Stockport revealed what had been learned from the crisis and how the health board was gearing up for future outbreaks.

Dr Stockport said the board was currently involved in another 12 clinical trials for potential Covid treatments after taking part in the successful dexamethasone study, which reduced the severity of the disease in around a third of more seriously affected patients.

He revealed some people were still testing positive after being clear of the virus, which he said “introduced some complexities for us”.

So far there have been 102,000 tests completed on 54,000 individuals with 4,631 positive cases.

Around 1,500 tests a day were currently being conducted, with the most reliable being the throat swab.

Dr Stockport said the board was testing “more and more people and making fewer and fewer diagnoses”.

Antibody testing had proved problematic, despite the board having completed around 3,500 tests.

Dr Stockport said there was “growing research” that antibodies don’t show in some people who had recovered from the infection.

On the subject of a vaccine he said: “It may be the case that a vaccine may be available in October but that is likely to be in smaller amounts and we don’t know what level of protection that will afford.”

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno