‘Massive concerns’ raised over failure to secure more testing for Covid-19 in Wales

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Opposition politicians have voiced “massive concern” after a deal between the Welsh Government and a company which would have allowed 6,000 Covid-19 tests a day collapsed.

Currently, there are only facilities to carry out 800 tests per day in Wales. The Welsh Government are now only predicting to be able to carry out 3,000 test daily by the end of April, down from an aim of 9,000 tests per day.

Welsh Conservative health spokeswoman Angela Burns said she was “deeply concerned” by the turn of events.

“It is devastating that the contract has broken down but why did the Welsh Government not have a backup plan in place?” she said.

“Now more than ever it is vital we are able to test our frontline staff and we are weeks behind getting processes in place.

“Our frontline heroes from across the heath service in social care, pharmacists, GPs and hospitals – all these people will come into contact with people who have Covid-19 and we must make sure that they and the people they are treating are safe. We owe it to them, for putting their lives at risk for us.

“The rest of the UK is in battle mode to defeat this awful virus. In Wales we need to make sure that we fully utilise the laboratories across Wales in private companies, universities and any other organisation that can help us to significantly ramp up testing and quickly.

“The Welsh Government has got to pull together every single trick in the book, every single bit of leverage they have to go and get the ability for us to have far more testing than we currently have.”

 

‘Disappointing’

The Welsh Government said that it was “very disappointing” that the company with which they had a written agreement to provide tests was not able to honour it.

“It’s very disappointing a company with which we had a written agreement to provide tests is not able to honour that agreement,” Health Minister Vaughan Gething said.

“But this plan allows us to continue to increase testing capacity in our hospitals and community, drawing on a four-nation agreement.”

Today he announced plans to introduce a smart test to identify if people have had coronavirus in Wales.

The new antibody blood test will show if people have recently had the virus and potentially if they have immunity.

The current antigen test can only tell if someone has the virus and is only used if someone has symptoms of coronavirus or is living with someone who has those symptoms.

“The new antibody test will be a massive leap forward in helping us respond to coronavirus,” Vaughan Gething said.

“In the immediate term, it will help our critical workers – especially our frontline NHS and social care staff – return to work and provide life-saving care.

“This new test is vital to give them the confidence and keep them safe as they carry out their work to keep everyone else safe.”

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Jason Evans
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Jason Evans

I’d like to know the name of the company the Labour Government said it had a written contract with and why they wasn’t able to honour this agreement

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Vaughan Gething was asked that very question by James Williams on ‘Politics Wales’ this morning (Sunday), but all that he would say was that the government had signed off an agreement with the supplier which the company had later notified that it was unable to fulfil. He was very obviously unwilling to name the company!

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Key part of sound procurement practice is defining the “capability” of the prospective supplier, which is difficult to do if deal is done over a nice lunch without bothering to visit the factory/warehouse and closely scrutinising that suppliers own supply chain and financials.

Simon Gruffydd
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Simon Gruffydd

Testing for Covid-19 infection and antibodies is crucial if we are going to have the figures to wind down the panic. The number of detected Covid-19 rises in Germany as they increase the number of people tested – meaning that the virus has been circulating around the population long before they were aware of it. Ditto UK – the increase in the number of cases is mainly due to an increase in the number of tests . A new study at Oxford University concludes that Covid19 may already have existed in the UK since January and that half of the… Read more »

Huw J Davies
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Huw J Davies

A relative of mine was admitted to hospital with a headache, persistent cough, fever and some abdominal pains. This happened after he’d just returned from a holiday in Turkey. He was unwell for over 6 weeks and admitted to hospital. The doctors didn’t know what had caused it but thought a virus of some sort was likeliest. The symptoms he experienced would have been classic for a diagnosis of COVID-19. Except this happened in late October 2019. In January a friend of mine died after a flu type illness had put him in intensive care on a ventilator. I would… Read more »

John Ellis
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John Ellis

I can only judge from what I hear via the media, but Wales right now appears to be a tad ahead of the game in comparison with England when it comes to testing GIG workers for the virus. This news suggests that this situation might not last too much longer.

Neil McEvoy
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Neil McEvoy

The Welsh Government was offered 10,000 tests on 19th March. They take 10 minutes to give the result of having had Covid 19 or having it. Neither the First Minister or Health Minister responded. Public Health Wales was contacted on 23rd March. Nobody replied to the supplier until I intervened. They then said they might be in touch when ” need arises “. I have the emails and i am staggered. I want to hold the Government to account and get things moving. The tests kits have been used in S Korea & are validated. The complacency is beyond belief.… Read more »

Simon Gruffydd
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Simon Gruffydd

10,000 tests should be enough to determine to what degree Covid-19 has been circulating around Wales these past few months and to what degree restrictions on everyone’s personal liberty is either prudent, or foolhardy. It is certainly destructive of the Welsh economy. It’s terrifying to imagine the number of local business and livelihoods that are being destroyed everyday this unprecedented imposition continues. Fydden nhw byth eu dwyn yn gyfrifol?

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Given the experience of South Korea, Taiwan and now Germany, the UK as a whole appears to have been behind the curve on testing, which may have a bearing on where we’re finding ourselves right now. I’ve yet to hear a really clear and convincing explanation as to why – especially as ‘test, test, test’ was from the outset core to the message delivered by the WHO.