Large numbers of patients and staff sickness have created an “incredibly challenging” situation at Wales’ hospitals, a health official has said.
Cardiff and Vale health board, which runs University Hospital of Wales,
Welsh Government data shows it ran out of intensive care beds on 20 December.
Public Health Wales’ Dr Giri Shankar said the health system was under enormous and unprecedented pressure.
He told BBC Radio Wales that a “significant proportion” of the workforce are sick and unwell.
Just before Christmas, the sickness rates were just around 10-12%, he said, adding: “That’s a large number of unavailable workforce.
“Therefore, as you saw yesterday and the day before, health boards making plea for whatever help they can get from various sources including medical students ex health care professionals, and so on,” he said.
“So, it is an incredibly challenging situation and not just in Cardiff and Wales but across all our health boards.”
The health board tweeted a plea at about 21:15 GMT on Boxing Day saying its critical care department was “urgently looking for assistance from medical students or other staff groups who have previously supported with proning patients”.
Proning involves turning patients on to their front to increase the oxygen supply to the lungs.
On Sunday morning it thanked people for responding to its request and said there was now “no need to call us”.
On Sunday, Public Health Wales reported a further 70 people had died after contracting coronavirus in Wales, taking the total to 3,368,
It warned figures would be higher as it did not report coronavirus cases on Christmas Day.
Hospitals in the south of England have said they have seen a “real rise in pressure” as the number of Covid patients needing treatment increases.