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Footage posted on social media has shown queues of ambulances outside a Welsh hospital amid a deluge of coronavirus cases in the country.
Hospital admissions in Wales have been climbing in recent days because of soaring infection rates, with more than 14,000 cases recorded in the last week.
A stark video posted on Twitter on Tuesday by Rupert Evelyn, Wales & West of England Correspondent for ITV News, shows scores of ambulances parked outside the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend.
He tweeted: “It’s getting worse.... 9 Ambulances plus 2 other @WelshAmbulance vehicles stacked up outside the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend. 20 staff and 9 patients in a car park.
It’s getting worse.... 9 Ambulances plus 2 other @WelshAmbulance vehicles stacked up outside the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend. 20 staff and 9 patients in a car park @itvnews pic.twitter.com/d1DPge5v1D
— Rupert Evelyn (@rupertevelyn) December 15, 2020
“Important to add that all the patients are being treated. The issue is that the hospital is fundamentally full.”
The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust has warned the situation is getting increasingly serious and that some patients will have to wait a long time for help.
The trust is asking the public to adhere to the COVID-19 rules, and only call 999 or attend A&E if they are seriously sick or injured.
The warnings come as doctors belonging to the Welsh Intensive Care Society called for Wales to be put into an "urgent" lockdown before Christmas in response to the demands currently being put on hospitals.
The director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, Darren Hughes, also warned that more hospitals around the country could soon suspend non-urgent care.
And two health boards have already said they will do so immediately in response to a large increase in cases.
Speaking on Monday, Hughes said many hospitals were "near capacity", affecting their ability to treat patients with non-urgent health problems.
He said: "I have said many times that nobody in the NHS wants this to be the case, but if we have a rising number of patients with coronavirus, we simply may not have the capacity to treat other non-urgent health issues.
"Our capacity is not just about the number of beds we have available but also about our staff. If community transmission is high, more staff go off sick or have to self-isolate as well.
Watch: Restrictions could be tightened after Christmas, Welsh government warns
"We ask everyone in the run-up to Christmas to please reduce your social contacts as much as possible. We want everyone in Wales to be able to have a happy and safe Christmas, and if we work together we can bring case rates down and have a greater reassurance that a safe Christmas is possible."
Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford on Tuesday defended his government’s relaxation of the rules over Christmas.
Drakeford said that having a "rule-based approach to Christmas" with modestly increased amounts of freedom for people is "preferable than a free-for-all".
He said he would discuss with Westminster whether the agreement "continued to have marginally more advantages than disadvantages", but warned that whatever the outcome, "harm is done".
"If we seek to prevent people from meeting over Christmas, a different sort of harm will be done to people's sense of mental health, to people's sense of how they can survive through this incredibly difficult year together," he said.
Watch: The UK’s Christmas Covid rules