Coronavirus: Wales joins UK home testing scheme
May. 18, 2020
The number of tests for coronavirus in Wales is to rise after the Welsh Government joined a UK-wide home testing scheme.
Anyone over the age of five in Wales, along with the other three nations, will be able to order tests if they have symptoms .
It coincides with Wales joining a UK government-run testing website.
The Welsh Government says the home tests will form a key part of its test and trace plans .
Ministers in Cardiff have been under pressure to increase testing after targets of 5,000 tests a day were abandoned in March.
There is now capacity for more than 5,000 tests a day, however figures say 1,931 tests were done in Wales on Sunday.
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Up until now only some key workers with symptoms, hospital patients and care home staff and residents have been eligible, with tests conducted at drive-in centres and other means - the home kits will be in addition to those.
People who need a home test can apply through the NHS website .
The range of symptoms was also expanded on Monday - as well as a continuous cough or fever, a loss of taste or smell are also considered valid symptoms.
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The Welsh Government wants to increase the number of tests for people in hospital, key workers and in care homes to 10,000 a day by the end of the month.
It has said that it could increase to 20,000 a day by drawing on the UK-wide testing programme.
Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: "This announcement is a major step forward in increasing coronavirus testing in Wales even further.
"Critical workers will continue to be prioritised for testing but now members of the public with symptoms can apply for a test. The number of people we can test will increase as we continue to build our capacity."
'How will Wales cope?'
Welsh Conservative health spokeswoman Angela Burns welcomed the news but said it came with the "usual caveat of 'How will Wales cope?', because the testing regime in Wales has been very poor, with missed and then abandoned targets since this pandemic began".
"We need to see real and sustained improvements and increases here by the Welsh Government before this new policy can give us hope," she said.
UK government Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said his and the Welsh governments "have worked closely together to put the safety of Wales' population at the centre of our efforts to combat the coronavirus".
"The decision of the Welsh Government to join the rest of the UK on the testing portal brings that alignment even closer," he added.
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