Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Regular COVID-19 testing has been offered to health and social care workers, education staff, students and workers in the public and private sector since the beginning of 2021. These groups have been provided with Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) for regular use, usually twice weekly, for individuals that do not have any symptoms. The purpose is to find cases and reduce transmission of the virus. People who cannot work from home, un-paid carers and volunteers have also been able to access lateral flow self-test kits since April.
Public Health Wales publishes a weekly surveillance report on LFD tests for Welsh residents including the number of tests reported and the result. Since 1 January 2021 2.7 million LFD tests have been registered in Wales resulting in 2,400 positive results reported with an overall positivity rate of 0.13%. 315 positive episodes were registered during 14 to 20 June 2021 with a positivity rate of 0.27%. The percentage of positive episodes has increased over the last two weeks in line with the increase in prevalence shown for symptomatic (PCR) testing over the same period.
People are required to report the results of their LFD tests whether positive or negative on a UK government website but we are concerned not all are reporting the results, particularly if they are negative. The number of tests registered in Wales has seen an overall increase over time but we recognise further improvements are needed and will be undertaking further communication and engagement work to stress the importance of reporting results.
Last week we launched a survey for people who are testing regularly across different groups to better understand people’s experience and help us plan what kind of testing we should offer in the future. We are also working on our communications to improve participation in testing and ensuring understanding of the need to register both negative and positive results. These actions will help us improve the experience and benefits of regular asymptomatic testing.