Health Minister Vaughan Gething has today (5 May) mapped out an ambitious Response Plan to prepare Wales for the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Public Health Protection Response Plan will set out how an effective ‘test, track and trace’ programme and digital technology and will be pivotal to controlling transmission of the virus. It will outline what can be done at scale and pace, in partnership with agencies and organisations across Wales, to move the country through the recovery phase.
The plan will detail three major activities for concerted public health action at a scale never before seen in Wales:
- Preventing the spread of disease through contact tracing,
- Sampling and testing
Contact tracing will identify those who have come into contact with someone suspected of having COVID-19, to prevent the virus from spreading. Welsh Government used contact tracing during the early phase of the disease to contain its spread. This will now be undertaken on a vastly increased scale, requiring a large and dedicated workforce to operate regionally coordinated tracing teams. These will be supported by technology to ensure swift and effective follow up.
Surveillance measures will track the disease to help establish the nature and spread of COVID-19 within our hospitals, care homes and communities. This data will be published, providing transparency on the progress being made.
Sampling and testing will form a key part of this response. Access to testing will expand over the coming weeks using drive-through centres, mobile vans and home-testing. Moving into the recovery phase, access to timely and accurate testing data will become even more important in containing the spread of the virus. From the outset, Welsh Government has insisted that testing centres set up in Wales by the UK Government and Deloitte used tests that could be processed in Wales, ensuring that this data is retained for use by NHS Wales.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“Implementation of our Response Plan will be one of the biggest public health challenges Wales will ever face. There are no quick fixes here. We know that COVID-19 will continue to be transmitted until we have a vaccine, or there is enough acquired immunity within the population.
“We have already asked a great deal of the people of Wales and the response has been humbling. We will now need to ask even more of you all for this plan to succeed. This plan is, and must remain, a joint initiative working with all our partners across Wales.
“Everything we are doing already is helping to reduce the spread of the virus. Having seen the sacrifices people have made over the last 6 weeks, I know that the scale of this challenge is more than matched by how determined all of us are to beat this virus. And in so doing, honouring every single person who has so tragically lost their lives to COVID-19.”