Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
This pandemic is not over and our strong advice continues to be not to travel overseas unless it is essential. The risk of re-importation of coronavirus from other parts of the world, and especially further new variants, has not gone away.
Where international travel is essential, Welsh residents must consult the requirements for visitors for any country they plan to travel to. Tests may be required for entry. For anyone planning on travelling to Wales, we continue to require people to take tests before travel and following arrival in Wales. All travellers must take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before travel and present proof of a negative test to carriers. In addition, travellers must book and pay for mandatory PCR tests to be taken following their arrival to Wales. Following the changes announced this week relating to amber list countries, fully vaccinated adults and under-18s will need to take a PCR test on or before day two following their arrival in the UK and will no longer be required to self-isolate. In the absence of self-isolation it will be very important to take care about physical contact with others. Visiting people in a hospital or care home during the first 10 days back should be avoided. Those who are not fully vaccinated will need to continue to take PCR tests on day 2 and on day 8 and to self-isolate for 10 days. Travellers arriving from green countries must take a PCR test on or before day 2.
Fully vaccinated means that you have had your final dose of an approved vaccine under the UK vaccination programme, are taking part in formally approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, or under the age of 18 and resident in the UK. This also applies if you are a resident of the British Overseas Territories who has been vaccinated under a vaccination programme supported directly by the UK Government. You should have had your final dose at least 14 whole days before the date you arrive in Wales. The day you have your final dose of the vaccine does not count as one of the 14 days.
It is critical any positive cases and potentially harmful variants of COVID-19 are identified at the earliest opportunity.
For this reason, for the time being, we require the tests people must take following their arrival to Wales to be provided by the NHS. NHS tests are booked through the CTM web portal. CTM are the booking agent for NHS tests, they are not the test provider. The price for NHS tests is the same across the UK, and is set by the UK Government. NHS tests are processed through the UK Lighthouse Laboratory network, which means we can identify positive cases quickly with results flowing directly to our Test, Trace, Protect system for follow up. Positive results undergo genomic sequencing in our world class sequencing facilities.
There is a list of private test providers on the UK Government’s website who offer PCR testing, sometimes at cheaper prices. The UK Government does not endorse or recommend any of these providers. The Welsh Government is concerned about the level of service provided by some of these private providers across a range of issues, including booked tests not being delivered and people not being notified of results. We are determined to protect the Welsh public from companies who do not meet the standards we require.
Protecting public health remains our main priority. We are working with the UK Government to seek assurance that only those companies who reach specified key performance indicators will be allowed to provide tests. When we are assured the right systems are in place to protect the Welsh public, we will review the position so that people could access tests from private companies.
Where a specified event with international participants has engaged their own private testing arrangements, we will allow for this where those testing arrangements meet with our standards and have been agreed with Public Health Wales.
Our message is clear – for the people of Wales this is the year to holiday at home and enjoy all that Wales has to offer.