Calls for urgent mass coronavirus testing in Cardiff as infection rate soars

Cardiff Queen Street. Photo by Shengpengpeng Cai on Unsplash

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

Calls have been made for urgent mass coronavirus testing in Cardiff as the infection rate in the Welsh capital is rapidly increasing.

The weekly number of cases per 100,000 population stood at 361.9 last week — double the rate from the middle of November — according to Public Health Wales.

Two parts of Wales have seen mass testing pilots: Merthyr Tydfil and the lower Cynon valley. Residents there can receive 20-minute lateral flow tests, if they show no symptoms of Covid-19. Those with symptoms continue to be able to access PCR swab tests.

Now Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for the same mass testing to be rolled out in Cardiff as the city saw one of the biggest increases in cases last week.

Councillor Rhys Taylor, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cardiff council, said: “Cardiff saw one of the biggest increases in positive coronavirus cases in the country this week. Urgent action is needed before the situation gets any worse.

“It is welcome that a vaccine is on the way and that plans are in place to roll that vaccine out, but the situation in Cardiff is very much heading in the wrong direction. We have to act now and roll out mass testing in Cardiff.

“To safeguard our local NHS and save lives there has to be mass testing in Cardiff.”

 

‘Break chains’

Mass testing of people without symptoms helps prevent transmission, as many people who contract Covid-19 are asymptomatic and might not otherwise realise they could be spreading the virus. Currently, most people can only get tested if they have symptoms.

The Welsh Government said it was learning from the two pilots and the community response was “extremely encouraging”.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are considering next steps for community testing, learning from our pilots in Merthyr and Lower Cynon.

“Community testing in Merthyr and Lower Cynon helped identify those who have Covid but may not have any symptoms. The response of the community has been extremely encouraging.

“By finding more cases, we can understand the spread of the virus within our communities and break chains of transmission.”

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