A population-wide contact tracing system is being rolled out across Wales as lockdown restrictions are eased, Health Minister Vaughan Gething has announced.
From today, anyone who has a positive coronavirus test result will be contacted by a team of contact tracers and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms.
Close contact means anyone:
- they have been within 1 metre of and had a face-to-face-conversation, had skin-to-skin contact with or have coughed on, or been in other forms of contact with for a minute or longer
- they have been within 2 metre of for more than 15 minutes
- they have travelled in a vehicle with or sat near on public transport
All these close contacts will be followed up and will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days as a precaution to prevent the virus spreading further.
From next Monday, 8 June, contact tracing will be supported by a new online system, which will give people the option to provide details of their close contacts electronically.
Mr Gething said:
“Today’s roll-out of the contact tracing element of our Test, Trace, Protect strategy is a significant step forward in the gradual move out of lockdown.
“Over the last few months, thanks to the help of the public and the way they have followed the stay-at-home rules, we have managed to slow the spread of the virus to the point where we can today ease the regulations to enable family and friends to meet again.
“Contact tracing is a tried and tested method of bringing outbreaks of infectious diseases under control and we hope it will do the same with coronavirus – but for it to be successful, we need everyone’s help and cooperation in sharing details about their movements and contacts. We also need people to self-isolate if they may be at risk.
“The scientific advice is clear – we need a contact tracing system in place before we begin to lift restrictions further.”
Health boards and local authorities are working together to deliver contact tracing. The system has been trialled in four health board areas over the last two weeks and more than 600 contact tracers have so far been employed. This number is likely to rise as the system is rolled out.