All residents and staff in care homes with outbreaks of coronavirus will be tested for the virus, the Welsh Government has announced today.
The move comes as the latest scientific evidence shows testing should be extended in care homes to manage outbreaks.
In the case of care homes, where a number of older people are living closely together, many of whom will have underlying health conditions, if the results of the tests are positive, we will assume – and take actions – as if everyone in the home has tested positive.
The Welsh Government is implementing a three-stage testing and rapid response plan to help care homes deal with coronavirus – this is a mixture of testing and environmental and hygiene support measures.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“Our national testing plan has 2 main aims – to reduce the harm caused by coronavirus and to help people and professionals get back to their normal daily lives.
“We are learning more about coronavirus every day – the evidence is constantly changing and emerging and we keep it under constant review.
“At the moment, the evidence does not support the blanket testing of everyone who does not have symptoms.
“But, in a care home setting, where there are some people who have symptoms of coronavirus and others who do not, testing everyone, including those who do not, does have a purpose – we will be doing this to help manage outbreaks.”
The 3-stage testing and rapid response package is being introduced to help protect care home residents and staff.
- Making it easier to get a test done – 8 new mobile testing units, which will be available from the week beginning May 3, and home testing kits, when they become available, will be focused towards care homes to ensure testing is easily available.
- Targeted testing on outbreak hot spots – we will target testing and deploy the mobile units to test all residents in care homes, in cases where an outbreak occurs (and potentially in neighbouring care homes) and repeat testing the following week. Testing will also be available in the largest care homes (those with more than 50 beds) which are at greater risk of experiencing an outbreak because of their size.
- Environmental and hygiene support – we will combine testing with environmental support when hotspots are identified. Increased cleaning, providing hand sanitiser and increased infection control measures will accompany the testing regime. Updated guidance to support these environmental measures will be provided to the sector.