Extra £15.7m to meet ‘expected rise in demand’ for Covid-19 contact tracing in December

Vaughan Gething speaking at a Coronavirus briefing.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething has announced an extra £15.7m to nearly double the contact tracing workforce in Wales for the winter.

The funding will increase the number of contact tracing staff in Wales from 1,800 to 3,100 in time for an expected rise in demand in December and through to the end of March.

A new all-Wales team is also being set-up to support local teams when they have a surge in cases.

“Contact tracing is a vital element of our Test, Trace, Protect strategy to stop the spread of the virus,” Mr Gething said.

“The contact tracing system in Wales has performed well so far, with over 90% of contacts being traced successfully since it started.

“We have used the firebreak period to review Test, Trace, Protect to enable us to maintain and improve performance as we head into what we expect will be a difficult winter, with the possibility that cases will increase.

“This extra funding will allow local contact tracing teams to increase the number of contact tracers and advisers for the busy winter period. We are also creating a new all-Wales tracing team to help our local teams manage surges on days when there are particularly high numbers of new positive cases.

“Together with our investment in testing laboratories in Wales this will ensure or Test, Trace, Protect strategy can help protect us by quickly identifying people with coronavirus symptoms; identifying new hotspots and isolating as many contacts as possible.”

 

‘Grateful’

At today’s press conference Vaughan Gething said that there would be “no artificial timescale” set on when mass testing might be introduced in Wales.

The Welsh Government is keeping an eye on the mass testing trial currently being undertaken in Liverpool.

“We still want to understand more about what’s happening in Liverpool to understand not just the numbers of people being tested but whether they’re getting to people we want to see tested, and how that reflects the overall positivity rate,” Vaughan Gething said.

“We want to make sure that people who are concerned about whether they have the virus and our most at-risk communities are really coming forward.”

Military planners joined a group led by Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board yesterday to look at options to test the whole of Merthyr Tydfil for Covid-19.

Mr Gething said he was “grateful” for the military’s support in how mass testing could work in “Merthyr or other parts of Wales too”.

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