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.”
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.”