The community testing programme will be extended to the end of September to help manage outbreaks and target areas that see a rapid increase in cases, the Health Minister has announced today (Monday 22 March).
Asymptomatic testing has been taking place in Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf since the beginning of March with plans also progressing in Anglesey in response to the outbreak in Holyhead.
An evaluation of the asymptomatic testing pilot in Merthyr Tydfil and Lower Cynon late last year by Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board found testing was very cost effective and had contributed to the subsequent decline in coronavirus case rates. It found an estimated 353 cases, 24 hospitalisations, 5 Intensive Care Unit admissions and 14 deaths, that would have otherwise occurred, were prevented.
Developments are also progressing to enhance our testing in communities with access to self-testing kits for people who cannot work from home to help identify asymptomatic coronavirus cases and keep people safe as we gradually ease restrictions. These will be made available soon through collection from local venues or delivered to homes and will make regular asymptomatic testing convenient and accessible for anyone who cannot access workplace testing.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
We know that up to one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms at all and can therefore spread it unknowingly.
While we are making good progress with the roll-out of our vaccination programme, testing remains pivotal in our response to the pandemic to help identify infectious individuals and manage outbreaks more effectively.
By providing community testing sites and plans to introduce self-testing kits for people who have to leave their home for work, we are making getting a test more accessible and convenient.
I welcome the results of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board testing pilot which shows that our community testing programme is making a real difference in reducing the transmission of infection, supporting contact tracing, protecting vulnerable individuals and helping to slow or stop the spread of coronavirus.
The new measures are part of our ‘test to find’ priority as part of our Testing Strategy.