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Testing capacity increased to identify Omicron variant in Wales

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Health Minister Eluned Morgan has announced plans to increase capacity for identifying the Omicron variant in Wales.

Public Health Wales has introduced comprehensive testing for probable Omicron results across Welsh NHS laboratories. A seven day a week service has been implemented, with a turnaround time of establishing variant details within 24 hours of an initial positive COVID-19 result.

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In addition to increasing Welsh NHS laboratory capacity, Lighthouse Laboratories operating under the UK testing programme will also utilise technology to identify mutations associated with Omicron to identify probable cases.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant is a sombre reminder that the pandemic is not yet over. There is concern that the Omicron variant may be spread much faster than other variants. It’s important we try to delay the spread of Omicron in Wales, and to do so we need to rapidly identify cases.

Throughout the pandemic testing has played a crucial role and we want to swiftly identify Omicron cases here in Wales. This alongside other measures already in place will help us once again to keep Wales safe.”

Dr Meng Khaw, National Director for Health Protection and Screening Services for Public Health Wales, said: “These changes will enhance the Covid response in Wales by rapidly identifying Omicron variant cases.  A huge thanks to our laboratory staff around Wales, and to our partners across the NHS, who have worked relentlessly to introduce these improvements.  All tests positive for Covid 19 in Wales are now routinely tested to identify Omicron variant.

“We remind the public that they can help us to quickly identify and prevent the spread of the Omicron variant by self-isolating immediately and booking a free Coronavirus test if they develop symptoms.  They can also help protect themselves, their community and the NHS by taking up the offer of a vaccine.”

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(Lead image: Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels.com)

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