Testing capacity stepped up

Coronavirus testing capacity is being stepped-up in west Wales as work begins this weekend on a new drive-through testing unit for key workers on the showground site in Carmarthen.

The unit, which will be operational by Thursday (30 April), will support testing facilities already providing tests for NHS staff and key workers such as those from police, fire and ambulance services; care homes and other critical local authority staff.

Other testing facilities are available across the west Wales area in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest and Llanelli, and consideration is also being taken as to how testing capacity may further be strengthened in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.

Executive Director of Therapies and Health Science for Hywel Dda University Health Board Alison Shakeshaft explained: “This is the next phase of our testing response supporting our key workers in critical areas of public service.

“We have testing capacity in all three counties of our patch, as well as provision of home testing where individuals are unable to access a testing unit e.g. for care home residents. We serve a rural community and are doing everything we can to make testing as accessible as possible. We will continue to work with other health boards in regards to mutual aid and supporting people who live or work across our boundaries.”

This latest testing unit has been delivered following a partnership betweenthe UK Government and Deloitte to deliver the UK-wide coronavirus testing of key workers. Key partners on the west Wales facility also include the Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, Carmarthenshire Council and other partners on the Local Resilience Forum.

The facility, in addition to other testing units and alternatives being explored by the Welsh Government, could potentially support future expansion of community testing.

Currently tests for key workers in west Wales are managed through Hywel Dda University’s local command centre where symptomatic workers are provided an appointment slot for themselves, and/or if appropriate, members of their household. They are provided with specific instruction on when and how to attend the different testing facilities.

People are asked not to attend any testing facilities without prior arrangement with the health board, as this could adversely affect their ability to provide tests to those who need them.

Testing units do not pose a risk to the public as stringent infection prevention measures are in place to protect people, staff and the wider community.

Alison said: “We are grateful for the partnership working established in our area and also to our communities for their co-operation and continued support during this pandemic.”