Posted: Fri 29th May 2020

Anglesey trialling test, trace and protect scheme against coronavirus before national roll-out

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Friday, May 29th, 2020

A trial scheme for the Welsh Government’s new “Test, Trace and Protect” strategy against coronavirus is taking place on Anglesey.

The island is the only county in North Wales to have been selected as a pilot area for the project, which involves testing people for coronavirus and then tracing the people they’ve been in contact with in a bid to contain the disease.

As lockdown measures continue to be eased, Welsh Government ministers claim that effective use of this strategy across the country will be crucial in containing the spread of the virus in the weeks and months ahead.

The strategy is set to be rolled out across Wales from early June.

“Small scale” pilot schemes are running in four health board areas, with staff from six councils – Anglesey, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Ceredigion and Powys – involved in the trials.

The trial started in Anglesey on Tuesday, and is being run in partnership with the Welsh Government, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Public Health Wales.

Its contact tracing pilot is focusing primarily on council staff, particularly those working in care settings who test positive for coronavirus.

Staff will then be referred into the contact tracing process following internal testing.

According to council leader Llinos Medi, staff have been redeployed to carry out the contact tracing process and to contact colleagues who test positive for Covid-19, a process she described as “vital” in implementing the strategy on a national basis.

Cllr Medi added: “We are proud to be part of this important pilot and the important national Test, Trace, Protect strategy, which will help save lives.

“I’d like to thank the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, our colleagues at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Public Health Wales and local authority partners for their guidance and support during the pilot process – and, above all, our staff who are working tirelessly to deliver the pilot on Anglesey.”

Chief executive Annwen Morgan added that taking part in the pilot was a priority for the council.

“Taking part in this project will allow us to contribute towards the national effort to protect the health and well-being of the people of Wales as well as our own residents here on Anglesey,” she said.

If the strategy is to be a success, it will mean a dramatic increase in daily testing for Covid-19 in both healthcare settings and communities.

It will involve asking people who have been in close contact with those who have tested positive to self-isolate to prevent its further spread.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Test, Trace, Protect will mean asking people to report symptoms, testing anyone in the community who is showing symptoms of COVID-19, and tracing those they have come into close contact with.

“Contacts will be advised to self-isolate in order to stop further spread among family, friends and the community.

“Contact tracing is a long established public health approach to containing the spread of many infections and has proven effective in controlling coronavirus in other countries.

“Our approach will bring together and build on the existing contact tracing expertise of our local health boards and particularly our local authorities to delivery this strategy on the ground.

“Asking people to isolate in this way is not easy, but it is vital if we are to continue to save lives and reduce the rate of transmission.

“Test, Trace and Protect will potentially be with us for some time, until a vaccine is developed, which may be at least 12 months away. Because it is not easy and because we are asking people to protect others, it is vitally important that we support people to do the right thing, particularly when we may be asking them to isolate on repeated occasions.

“The people of Wales are our most important partners. It is only through their willingness to do the right thing – report their symptoms, identify their contacts and heed advice when told to self-isolate – that we can break the chain.”

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter

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