Criticism over ‘lack of urgency’ in coronavirus testing in Wales

Coronavirus covid-19 test. Picture by Tom Wolf (CC BY 2.0).

Opposition parties have criticised the Welsh Government today over a “lack of urgency” in coronavirus testing, after a testing station in Cardiff was closed for the bank holiday.

The testing Station in Cardiff was closed today “due to the low number of key workers anticipated to be working on Bank Hol Monday,” Public Heath Wales said.

Figures also showed that only 770 coronavirus tests were done on Saturday despite the Welsh Government claining that Wales’ NHS now has the capacity to carry out almost twice that.

At the end of March the Welsh Government said that “by mid-April, up to 5,000 antigen tests a day will be provided to people admitted to hospitals with suspected coronavirus, frontline NHS staff and people who are classed as extremely vulnerable”.

The Wesh Government today confirmed that they had the capacity to test 1,300 a day in Wales. However the most recent Public Health Wales data showed that only 770 tests were carried out on Saturday and 586 on Friday.

 

‘Incredible’

Both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives criticised the lack of urgency in testing suspected cases.

“We were told there would be 5,000 tests a day in Wales by mid-April,” Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said.

“But latest figures show less than 800 tests a day and today the Covid-19 Testing Station in Cardiff was closed due to the bank holiday. Where is the sense of urgency?”

Conservative Shadow Health Minister Angela Burns AM also expressed her concern as the Cardiff City Stadium key worker test centre did not open on Easter Bank Holiday Monday.

“Coronavirus doesn’t respect bank holidays, so there is no valid reason to have kept the centre shut today,” Angela Burns said.

“While I appreciate that resources – especially staff – are stretched now, keeping the doors of a test centre shut on the assumption that few key workers would turn up to be tested is, I think, based on a false premise. In fact, it’s really rather incredible that PHW would have taken this approach.

“And let’s not forget that the tests not carried out today will just add to the burden of tests needing to be taken and then analysed.

“It was only last Friday that a nurse, speaking to the Welsh Conservatives, reported how she had had to wait nearly a week for a test.

“Limiting the amount of days that testing can take place could likely keep either perfectly healthy key workers away from their vital frontline duties, or prevent those with Coronavirus finding out that they are infected and taking the correct steps to get themselves well – and keep others safe.”

The Welsh Government however responded to say that opposition parties had shown “a complete lack of understanding of how the system works”.

“Key workers can’t just turn up to this centre, they have to be booked in,” the spokesperson told Channel 4 news. “Because of the small number booked in for today, they were all tested yesterday instead.”

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ROBERT MATTHIASAnthony CusackAnn Owen Recent comment authors
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Ann Owen
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Ann Owen

Welsh Govt reason for the centre not being opn today underlines the point re lack of urgency. It seems they’re waiting for healthcare staff or someone elsr on their behalf to book – Is WG contacting healthcare staff and mandating them to be tested with definite appointment date/time? Are testing stations being placed in the easiest locations for healthcare workers to attend? Why not on hospital grounds so can be done on way into or leaving work? Something isn’t working here! Needs sorting out fast for all our sakes!

Anthony Cusack
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Anthony Cusack

People are only being tested if they have symptoms. This is true of patients and staff. You don’t want testing grounds on hospital grounds because that’s bringing the virus to the grounds. The testing stations in Cardiff are very accessible. The capacity for testing over the weekend was fine. I’m not aware of people not being able to be tested. The opposition claims are numbers not the full story. Why only 770 were tested when 1300 could be does not mean the tests were refused, it means the referrals for tests weren’t present.

Anthony Cusack
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Anthony Cusack

One of my team phoned me on Sunday to say they had symptoms, she was tested the same day. I’d say that’s fairly urgent.

ROBERT MATTHIAS
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ROBERT MATTHIAS

of all the countries mentioned by UK Media i was surprised Ireland was excluded only to discover that cases of fatalities in UK twice that of Ireland per 100,000 and this was because Ireland acted quickly once this was first emerging as a threat whilst in the UK were telling people to wash their hands but allowing large gatherings at numerous events