INTENSIVE care capacity in Gwent could be increased nearly threefold when the new Grange Hospital opens, providing reassurance in the possible event of a second wave of Covid-19.

Intensive care consultant Dr David Hepburn shared the news yesterday during a video walkthrough of the brand-new hospital, located outside Cwmbran.

Under normal circumstances, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board will have an intensive care capacity of 25-30 patients, but the extra space at the Grange would allow two patients to share a room if the situation became sufficiently urgent, taking capacity to 60.

The new hospital is set to open in November, providing Gwent's health board with a state-of-the-art facility to treat its sickest patients as doctors try to anticipate whether coronavirus could return in the winter months.

READ MORE: A look inside Gwent's new Grange University Hospital

At present, ABUHB has 22 critical care beds – 16 in Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital, and eight in Abergavenny's Nevill Hall Hospital – and Dr Hepburn said on Thursday there were no Covid-19 patients currently being treated in either intensive care unit.

"Things are OK," the consultant said when asked about the current situation in the ICUs. "Our last Covid patient left the [Royal] Gwent last Thursday, and was doing really well, which is great."

He said scientific researchers had predicted a peak of the virus this month – but this had not materialised to date.

A second wave of Covid-19 is "always my fear," the consultant added. "The first one was bad enough – I'm sure a lot of you saw what we had to deal with then," he told viewers on the Facebook Live stream. "It's always going to be a fear until we've got a vaccine or this has gone away for good... but at the minute we're doing OK."

He added: "If we can get through July and we don't have any more cases that'll be good, and then we'll see what the winter brings."

Asked about the public regarding health workers as 'heroes' during the pandemic, he said: "This is our job; what we joined up for. It just so happened this big disaster meant that critical care was in the middle of it – that's just the way it goes."

Dr Hepburn said many other people were in graver situations due to the effects of Covid-19 on the economy.

"Thank you for saying we're heroes – that's very kind – but we've all got stable jobs, we've all been paid... and we work for an organisation that has valued our contribution," he said.

"We're in a much better situation than a lot of people," he added. "Lots of people have lost their jobs, [and] there are people who are really struggling to feed their families.

"It's nice everyone appreciates what we've done, but actually we're doing our job. It has been a bit tricky at times but I think stress is relative [and] it's more stressful worrying about how you're going to feed your family or get your kids school uniform."

Dr Hepburn said he hoped the country could continue to re-open, but he urged people to continue following public health advice on preventing the spread of Covid-19, by practising social-distancing, washing hands, and wearing a mask.

"Don't get complacent, though, it's still out there and it can still make you very sick," he said.