Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Welsh Government was made aware last week of reports that a higher than expected number of positive lateral flow tests were resulting in negative PCR tests and that this was being investigated by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Health Boards also highlighted cases from a number of areas of South Wales that may have been affected that we have been reviewing with Public Health Wales, linking into the work being led by the UKHSA.
As a result of these investigations UK NHS Tests and Trace has suspended testing operations provided by a laboratory in England but affects some residents in Wales. This involves technical issues at the laboratory that has led to some people being given incorrect results between 8 September and 12 October. We have been informed this issue is isolated to this laboratory and does not involve the wider network including the IP5 laboratory in Newport that processes the majority of Welsh samples.
UKHSA have looked into the number of tests from Welsh residents processed at the affected laboratory and estimate around 4,000 people may have been given inaccurate results. We assess the majority of these tests will have been taken at testing sites across the Gwent and Cwm Taf Morgannwg areas.
Anyone who had a test from 4 October and received a result from the affected laboratory will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace by text message and/ or e-mail and advised if it was negative to book an appointment to be re-tested. It will also advise that their close contacts who are symptomatic book a test. People who had a test processed at the laboratory between 8 September and 4 October will also be contacted and advised to get a test if they have symptoms. Our advice to everyone remains that if you have symptoms to self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test.
My immediate concern is the information and support for the Welsh residents impacted and I have asked Public Health Wales to provide additional support and advice to the affected health boards in addition to the UKHSA communications. They will also be assessing the potential impact of this incident on the case rates and epidemiology reports for Wales.
We will continue to work closely with UKHSA and NHS Test and Trace on the findings and actions needed and I will keep members informed on developments.