A four-week pilot for asymptomatic serial testing with South Wales Police has been announced by the Health Minister.
The main aim of the pilot is to trial a serial testing regime that will aim to minimise the number of Police staff out of work due to self-isolation following contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
A similar plan for Welsh school and college staff and students was announced last week which will start in January.
Serial testing means Police staff identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive would be asked to either self-isolate as normal or to take a lateral flow test (LFT) at the start of their shift for the duration of the self-isolation period.
Those who test negative may continue with their normal activities; those who test positive must self-isolate and book a confirmatory PCR test.
LFTs are handheld devices which produce results within 20 to 30 minutes and can be self-administered.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
The nature of frontline police work is such that there is extensive interaction with often more vulnerable members of the public - resulting in a heightened risk of transmission, infection and requirement for self-isolation. This is resulting in a detrimental impact on Police workforce capacity to address day-to-day routine law enforcement commitments.
As a consequence of the particular pressures facing the South Wales Police area, I have agreed to a proposal to commence a four-week asymptomatic serial testing pilot with South Wales Police, ahead of a possible wider roll-out of serial testing to the other police force areas in Wales, subject to an evaluation and review demonstrating the impact and efficacy of this initial pilot. This proposal has the agreement of the other police force areas in Wales.
Chief Superintendent of South Wales Police, Andy Valentine, said:
I am pleased that we have been able to work with Welsh Government and Public Health Wales and I am extremely grateful for the support we have had to establish the lateral flow test pilot for our officers and staff.
We are seeing the very serious impact that the contact tracing arrangements have on police resource levels. When officers and staff have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, their close contacts are legally obliged to self-isolate for 10 days. Due to the uncontrolled nature of our work, these contacts can be numerous and have a significant impact on the individuals involved and on resource levels.
This pilot will allow officers who test negative to return to their duties safely so they can continue to protect the public and keep our communities safe.