Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, has announced routine testing of asymptomatic frontline health and social care staff will start this month in Wales.
Lateral flow tests (LFTs) will be made available to test frontline health and social care workers twice weekly.
Mr Gething said: “I am pleased to announce that we will now be introducing a programme of regular asymptomatic testing of frontline health and social care staff and others in contact with patients and those receiving social care. This builds on the asymptomatic testing of health workers in Wales to assist with outbreak control and those working in care homes.
“This will be done using lateral flow testing devices, which can produce results in 30 minutes with the potential to be self-administered. While LFTs are not as sensitive as lab-based RT-PCR tests, scientific advice has indicated that by testing more frequently with LFTs their accuracy is on a par with RT-PCR tests.
“It is vital everyone understands that testing alone cannot eradicate the risks associated with COVID-19 and testing needs to be carried out alongside other infection prevention control measures, such as the use of PPE, social distancing and hand hygiene.
“Protecting our NHS staff and our most vulnerable citizens in Wales is at the heart of our COVID response and a key element of our Test, Trace, Protect strategy.”
The new testing programme will be available for:
- clinical NHS staff (doctors, nurses and allied health professionals) and those working with high-risk groups such as haematology staff working with transplant patients
- non-clinical staff including porters, cleaning staff, catering staff and volunteers
- social care workers, including domiciliary care workers, social workers and inspectors visiting care homes and other social care settings
Mr Gething added: “We will begin rolling out the programme for these groups from 14 December, starting with those working in services with high risks of transmission, and introducing in lower risk settings in January. We will also be introducing regular asymptomatic testing of staff working in hospice inpatient units and those delivering hospice at home services.”