Everyone in Wales with symptoms of coronavirus will be able to request a test as a new online booking service becomes available today.
Anyone experiencing the symptoms – a high temperature, continuous cough, or the loss or change in smell or taste – will be able to apply for a home testing kit using the new online portal.
Opposition parties had criticised the switch from a separate platform the Welsh Government had been developing to using the same platform as Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.
But Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething said the announcement was “a major step forward” in increasing coronavirus testing in Wales.
“Critical workers will continue to be prioritised for testing but now members of the public with symptoms can apply for a test,” he said. “The number of people we can test will increase as we continue to build our capacity.
“In conjunction with a new tracing app, this increase in testing is at the heart of our Test Trace Protect strategy, which will help us to further reduce the spread of the virus and gradually ease restrictions on everyday life in Wales.
“The public will be our most important partners in delivering this strategy – we are asking only those people who have symptoms to request a test, to ensure they go to the right people.”
Earlier today, the four UK Chief Medical Officers confirmed the loss or change in smell or taste (anosmia) has been added to the list of symptoms of coronavirus.
This means from today, people will need to self-isolate if they have a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste. All members of their household must also self-isolate for 14 days, unless the person with symptoms has a negative test result.
This will be supported by a 119 phone service, through which people can also order a home test.
The ability for critical workers and the public to book slots at drive-through testing centres, mobile testing units and community testing units through these websites will be introduced soon, the Welsh Government said.
In the meantime, critical workers can continue to use the current local referral arrangements.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns MS, had accused the Welsh Government of “playing party politics with people’s lives” following the announcement that an online platform for key workers to book coronavirus tests has been scrapped.
Plaid Cymru’s health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth also condemned the U-turn and said: “How much has this cost us? How much time has been lost as a result of this?
“It’s another example of the confusion in the way the Welsh Government has reacted to this. Great if this is the best way, there we are. But it raises the questions why are we again in this situation with so much confusion?”