Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services
I want to inform Members of our plans for Merthyr Tydfil borough to be the first whole area testing pilot in Wales. Everyone living or working in Merthyr Tydfil will be offered COVID-19 testing.
Our aims in delivering the area testing pilot are to:
- protect Merthyr and residents at highest risk;
- test the maximum number of inhabitants living in Merthyr Tydfil to identify the virus, wherever it is, and empower the local community to arrest and reduce the community spread in order to save lives and save livelihoods; and
- provide us with an even greater understanding of prevalence within the community and how many people are asymptomatic.
To achieve these aims we are seeking to work with the communities and people living in Merthyr to embrace the testing being offered and help keep Merthyr safe.
This is being delivered through a collaborative partnership between the Welsh Government, UK Government, Merthyr CBC, Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board and the Ministry of Defence, with logistical support from Armed Forces personnel. There has been an impressive can-do attitude from all partners who have shown initiative and creativity in developing solutions for delivery.
All residents will be offered repeat COVID-19 testing from this Saturday (21st November) even if asymptomatic, to help find more positive cases and break the chains of transmission. The first site for asymptomatic testing will open at Merthyr Tydfil leisure centre on Saturday 21st November with further sites due to open throughout the borough later this month.
The mass testing programme will see the use of Lateral Flow Devices for the first time at this scale in Wales. Everyone who attends any of the sites in Merthyr will be given a test using the devices, which can turnaround results within around 20-30 minutes. If an individual tests positive via a LFD test, they will then have a traditional swab test and will be asked to return home so they can self-isolate immediately.
Building on the learning from the first mass testing pilot in Liverpool, Merthyr will provide further vital information to help inform future rollout of mass testing in Wales.