All residents and staff in Welsh care homes with COVID-19 outbreaks to be tested for the virus
All residents and staff in care homes with outbreaks of coronavirus will now be tested for the virus, the Welsh Government has announced today.
Latest scientific evidence shows testing should be extended in care homes to manage outbreaks according to the government.
The move stops short of testing everyone within care home settings, regardless of whether or not they display symptoms which is now the case in England.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said Wales would not follow in the footsteps of England with blanket testing despite concerns from healthcare staff.
The Welsh Government is implementing a three-stage testing and rapid response plan to help care homes deal with coronavirus – this is a mixture of testing and environmental and hygiene support measures.
In the case of care homes, where a number of older people are living closely together, many of whom will have underlying health conditions, if the results of the tests are positive, we will assume – and take actions – as if everyone in the home has tested positive.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Our national testing plan has two main aims – to reduce the harm caused by coronavirus and to help people and professionals get back to their normal daily lives.
We are learning more about coronavirus every day – the evidence is constantly changing and emerging and we keep it under constant review.
At the moment, the evidence does not support the blanket testing of everyone who does not have symptoms.
But, in a care home setting, where there are some people who have symptoms of coronavirus and others who do not, testing everyone, including those who do not, does have a purpose – we will be doing this to help manage outbreaks.”
The Welsh Conservatives welcomed the “u-turn” – Shadow Minister for Social Care, Janet Finch-Saunders said: “Just two days ago the First Minister said he saw no value in testing everyone in care homes.
“This u-turn by the Welsh Government is very much welcomed by not just residents and staff in care homes but by their families and loved ones.
“Testing can help to reduce the spread of this deadly and horrid virus that is having a devasting impact on the most vulnerable in society.
“It is a shame that the extra capacity in the Wales Covid19 testing programme couldn’t have been used sooner.”
Eight new mobile testing units, which will be available from next week.
Last week the Army along with Public Health Wales and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board set up a COVID-19 testing station on the car park of Bryn yr Haul care home in Mold.
It’s understood they were using it as a training exercise together with the residents and staff.
The Welsh Government said home testing kits – when they become available – will be focused towards care homes to ensure testing is easily available.
Targeted testing on outbreak hot spots with mobile units deployed to test all residents in care homes, in cases where an outbreak occurs – and potentially in neighbouring care homes – and repeat testing the following week.
Testing will also be available in the largest care homes – those with more than 50 beds – which are at greater risk of experiencing an outbreak because of their size.
The Welsh Government said it will also combine testing with environmental support when hotspots are identified with increased cleaning, providing hand sanitiser and increased infection control measures will accompany the testing regime.
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