Everyone who lives and works in Merthyr Tydfil will be offered a Covid-19 tests whether they have symptoms or not, Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething has said.
The first mass testing programme in Wales will be rolled out after the borough recorded the highest case rate in UK at the start of November.
It is still among the worst affected areas in Wales with 286.8 cases per 100,000 last Saturday.
The programme will start this Saturday, November 21, and will be the first time that Lateral Flow Devices, which can turn around results in 20-30 minutes will be used at mass scale in Wales.
The first site will open at Merthyr Tydfil Rhydycar leisure centre on Saturday 21 November, with other sites due to open later in the month.
In a statement on Wednesday, Vaughan Gething said: “I want to inform Members of our plans for Merthyr Tydfil borough to be the first whole area testing pilot in Wales. Everyone living or working in Merthyr Tydfil will be offered COVID-19 testing.
“Our aims in delivering the area testing pilot are to: protect Merthyr and residents at highest risk; test the maximum number of inhabitants living in Merthyr Tydfil to identify the virus, wherever it is, and empower the local community to arrest and reduce the community spread in order to save lives and save livelihoods; and provide us with an even greater understanding of prevalence within the community and how many people are asymptomatic.
“To achieve these aims we are seeking to work with the communities and people living in Merthyr to embrace the testing being offered and help keep Merthyr safe.
“This is being delivered through a collaborative partnership between the Welsh Government, UK Government, Merthyr CBC, Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board and the Ministry of Defence, with logistical support from Armed Forces personnel. There has been an impressive can-do attitude from all partners who have shown initiative and creativity in developing solutions for delivery.
“All residents will be offered repeat COVID-19 testing from this Saturday (21st November) even if asymptomatic, to help find more positive cases and break the chains of transmission. The first site for asymptomatic testing will open at Merthyr Tydfil Rhydycar leisure centre on Saturday 21st November with further sites due to open throughout the borough later this month.
“The mass testing programme will see the use of Lateral Flow Devices for the first time at this scale in Wales. Everyone who attends any of the sites in Merthyr will be given a test using the devices, which can turnaround results within around 20-30 minutes. If an individual tests positive via a LFD test, they will then have a traditional swab test and will be asked to return home so they can self-isolate immediately.”