A senior intensive care consultant in Wales has said the country’s hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed by the second wave of coronavirus as the nation enters a 17-day “firebreak” lockdown.

Anaesthetist Dr Ami Jones is hoping the move will buy time and ease pressure on an already strained health system.

She said what medical staff are seeing is comparable to the first wave and space is at a premium.

Even a small bump in numbers could cause significant problems, adding to existing winter pressures.

She said: “I think if we don’t do something significant and shake people and make them realise that their NHS is at risk and we may not be able to cope this winter and they may not be able to get the care they need.

“Whether that’s because they catch Covid-19, have a heart attack or get knocked down by a car, I think this lockdown will make everybody stop and think.

“I appreciate fully the impact on the economy and how much it’s impacting on mental health, we see lots of those patients as well.

“But to be able to have an NHS to look after everybody for whatever it is they need, this is critical to give us breathing space to get the infections down.”

There is such concern about capacity that the opening of the Grange Hospital in Cwmbran in South Wales has been accelerated by four months to provide extra beds.

Dr Ami Jones
Image:Dr Ami Jones says the lockdown is ‘critical’ to get coronavirus infections down

Inside, medics are doing orientation training and refining procedure. Around them workmen make the finishing touches.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the number of Covid patients is now the highest it’s been since June.

The Welsh government has though acknowledged the lockdown won’t see a dramatic drop in Covid numbers immediately. It hopes the “short, sharp” break will though in time slow hospital admissions and transmission in the community.

The Covid-19 measures in Wales are some of the strictest of any of the home nations.

The Welsh lockdown includes a “stay at home” order and all non-essential shops will close.

Supermarkets, off-licences and pharmacies will be allowed to remain open – although supermarkets will not be able to sell products that are deemed “non-essential”.