Virus testing targets dropped by the Welsh Government following review

(Title Image: ITV Wales)

A Welsh Government aim to have the capacity to carry out 8,000 Covid-19 tests a day by mid-April has been spectacularly missed, with recent Public Health Wales figures showing fewer than 1,000 tests a day were undertaken.

On BBC’s Politics Wales, the First Minister blamed the low level of testing on delays in obtaining supplies and “red tape”. Following a rapid review, the Welsh Government has now said:

  • £50million is being put forward to increase supplies of the necessary materials for virus testing and the Health Minister will provide a weekly update on testing capacity – though no targets will be set for the number of tests to be carried out.
  • Community testing units for critical workers (NHS staff, education, social care staff, transport etc.) have been opened. Arrangements are being put in place for home testing where appropriate.
  • Testing in hospitals, care homes and for people discharged from hospital “will increase” (though no figures are provided).
  • The referral process for receiving a virus test will be simplified by introducing an online booking system, removing a cap on referrals for local authorities and asking the military to consider logistical support and operations to improve the efficiency of the testing process.

The review seemingly hasn’t considered the resources available at Welsh universities, with bioscience and medical research departments well placed to carry out mass testing with the resources available to them.

One of the main testing methods (Polymerase chain reaction/PCR) is routinely taught to first-year bioscience, medicine and dentistry undergraduates.

University of South Wales researchers recently announced they had developed a portable testing system that can generate a result in 30 minutes. They’re currently reportedly in discussions with the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board.

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