Coronavirus: More mobile testing units pledged for Covid hotspots

Coronavirus: More mobile testing units pledged for Covid hotspots

Coronavirus: More mobile testing units pledged for Covid hotspots


Up to five extra mobile testing units will be deployed to Covid-19 hotspots in Wales this week, Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said.

He said extra lanes at drive-through centres and tests processed at a Welsh laboratory were also being considered.

People trying to get tests have spoken of their frustration over the length of time to book and distance to travel.

GP and Plaid member of the Senedd (MS) Dr Dai Lloyd has called on Mr Gething to “get a grip” on the issue.

He told Claire Summers on BBC Radio Wales the health minister had “opted into this UK system” so “can’t say ‘it’s not my fault, it is all down to UK’.”

The large private sector Lighthouse Laboratories which analyse test swabs from all the UK nations have been under strain to process them all.

But Mr Gething said that Wales would not stop using Lighthouse Laboratories: “I think dynamiting the system and thinking we can start again within a few days… I don’t think that would be sensible at all… we don’t have the additional money.”

He said issues with testing were “a point of real frustration for people across Wales and indeed other parts of the UK”, adding: “We’re already looking at what we can do with our own testing resources here in Wales”.

He told Radio Wales he and the Scottish health minister had jointly written a letter to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock asking for an urgent discussion about how quickly issues would be resolved.

Caerphilly has been the second-hardest-hit part of the UK for infections in the last week, after Bolton, Greater Manchester, which tightened its local restrictions.

Analysis of recent case rates by the BBC also shows Merthyr Tydfil ranked 24th in the UK and Rhondda Cynon Taff in 26th place.

What’s been going wrong?

The UK government’s testing system – part of its test, track and trace operation which Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised would be “world-beating” – has faced criticism in recent weeks.

A surge in demand for coronavirus tests has led to local shortages, with many people reporting problems with getting online bookings and being directed to test sites hundreds of miles from their homes.

On Monday, one testing site in Abercynon, Rhondda Cynon Taff, reportedly ran out of kits.

An official at the site told BBC Wales it had closed for a few hours while they fetched more tests from Swansea.

‘It’s someone else’s fault’

Dr Lloyd, who is chair of the Senedd’s health committee, said he was “extremely concerned because we seem to seeing a resurgence now of the virus”.

“We’re running out of testing kits in a situation that is run by private companies that have no link to the NHS,” he said.

“We’ve fragmented the system now and there’s lots of people involved.”

He added: “It’s a very complicated new private system overlaid on top of our usual NHS provision…

“Its impossible as opposition politicians to scrutinise exactly what’s going on because everyone says it’s someone else’s fault.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “The problems people have been experiencing when trying to book a test are directly related to the ongoing UK-wide issues with the Lighthouse Lab system, which we urgently need to see resolved at a UK level.

“The health minister [in Wales] has repeatedly raised this with the [UK government’s] secretary of state for health.

“We are moving as much NHS Wales testing capacity as we can into areas where testing is needed the most, as well as taking urgent action to switch over testing facilities to Welsh laboratories to further increase capacity while the UK government resolves these issues with the Lighthouse Lab system.”

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This article was originally published  in BBC News  Click here to view the news story.

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Coronavirus: More mobile testing units pledged for Covid hotspots





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