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Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services

First published:
23 December 2020
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

The nature of frontline police work is such that there is extensive interaction with often more vulnerable members of the public, resulting in a heightened risk of transmission and infection and a requirement for self-isolation. This is resulting in a detrimental impact on police workforce capacity to address day to day routine law enforcement commitments.

As a consequence of the particular pressures facing the South Wales Police area, I have agreed to a proposal to commence a four-week asymptomatic serial testing pilot with South Wales Police, ahead of a possible wider rollout of serial testing to the other police force areas in Wales, subject to an evaluation and review demonstrating the impact and efficacy of this initial pilot. This proposal has the agreement of the other police force areas in Wales.   

Serial testing means police staff identified as close contacts would be asked to either self-isolate as normal OR to take a lateral flow test (LFT) at the start of their shift for the duration of the self-isolation period. Those who test negative may continue with their normal activities; those who test positive must self-isolate and book a confirmatory test.

The main aim of the pilot is to rapidly introduce a serial testing regime using LFTs that will have the effect of minimising the number of police out of work due to self-isolation following contact with a person who has tested positive for Coronavirus, so strengthening organisational resilience and the ability to deliver essential services.

Members will also wish to note that the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 4) (Wales) Regulations 2020 have been amended to give effect to serial LFT testing of close contacts in agreed screening pilots as an alternative to self-isolation.

I will continue to keep members informed regarding the outcome of this pilot and any plans for a wider rollout of serial testing. 

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.