Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, has today (Wednesday 13 May) published a new strategy to test the public and trace the spread of coronavirus in Wales.
Mass testing and technology will be at the heart of the Test, Trace and Protect strategy, which will help Wales move to the next stage of the response to the virus.
Mr Gething said:
We all want to be able to return to normal life as quickly as possible and to ease restrictions further – the science will guide us about when that happens.
Our Test, Trace, Protect strategy will be a key element in helping us do that by enabling us to quickly identify people with coronavirus symptoms; to identify any new hotspots and to isolate as many contacts as possible.
The plan includes:
- increasing testing of critical workers to enable them to return to work
- a new system of home testing for the public if they have coronavirus symptoms
- a new app to track symptoms in the general population and contact others who have symptoms or have tested positive
Testing capacity currently stands at more than 5,000 tests a day. There are six drive-through testing centres, eight mobile units and a number of community testing centres throughout Wales. Testing capacity will be increased to up to 20,000 tests a day, by drawing on a UK-wide scheme, as the Test, Trace, Protect strategy is implemented.
The exact number of tests Wales will need every day will depend on the level of coronavirus circulating in the community and the emerging evidence about how testing should be deployed to prevent infection. This will be kept under review.
The Minister added:
We have to learn to live with the virus. This approach will help people understand whether they have been exposed to the virus so they can limit their exposure to others. This will help us to prevent infection and track the virus as restrictions are eased.
“The public will be our most important partners. It is only through their willingness to report their symptoms, identify their contacts and follow the advice to self-isolate if they have symptoms that we will be able to control the spread of coronavirus.