Senedd roundup: Welsh Government extends testing to all care homes

Photo by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething has announced that coronavirus testing will be extended to all care home residents and staff in Wales.

Previously only residents and staff in care homes with confirmed case of coronavirus were tested.

From this week care homes that have not reported an outbreak or any cases of coronavirus will be able to use an online portal to order testing kits for their residents and staff.

Test kits would be provided for the whole care home, this includes all residents and staff. The system will be rolled out shortly.

The new policy will be in an addition to the existing testing arrangements that test:

  • all residents and staff of care homes with ongoing cases prior to May
  • all residents and staff members of care homes reporting an outbreak
  • all residents and staff in the larger care homes with more than 50 beds
  • all individuals being discharged from hospital to live in care homes regardless of whether or not they were admitted to hospital with COVID-19
  • all people who are being transferred between care homes and for new admissions from the community

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “How we tackle Coronavirus continually changes as we receive more emerging evidence and scientific advice.

“We have been very clear in our approach that our strategy is about reducing harm first and we will adapt policies in order to do this. Today is a step change in how we will be testing in care homes, adapting our policy so that every resident and member of staff can be tested for Coronavirus.

“I hope this brings further reassurance to those living and working in care homes and their families.”

Figures released yesterday by the Office of National Statistics confirmed a total of 532 deaths in care homes in Wales involved Covid-19.

Public Health Wales has confirmed 18 further deaths from Covid-19. The latest fatalities bring the total number of deaths in Wales to 1,191. Another 183 new cases have been reported over the last 24 hours, taking the total number of people infected in Wales to 12,142.  PHW also confirmed 1,652 tests were conducted yesterday.

Photo by Smabs Sputzer (1956-2017) and licensed under CC BY 2.0

Recycling centres to reopen in Wales next week

Recycling centres will begin to reopen in the next week, with most local authorities opting to reopen from the 26th May.

The stay at home message in Wales remains and people wishing to visit a centre are urged to go only if it is essential and the waste and or recycling cannot be picked up by their council’s kerbside collections or stored at home. Anyone with, or in a household with someone displaying symptom of Covid-19 or currently shielding should not use this service.

All councils have agreed a common set of criteria that will need to be met before they can consider the safe re-opening of recycling sites. Councils will need to be satisfied that:

  • There is an appropriate level of staff available to operate the facilities.
  • The sites can comply with stringent health and safety requirements including sanitisation, social distancing, and the implications for traffic management.
  • Trade Unions are being consulted to agree the basis for any reopening and operation of the centres.

Due to the impact of the pandemic varying in different parts of Wales, operational aspects such as staffing levels, suitability of the site to be adapted for social distancing restrictions and items being collected will be different for different recycling centres and will potentially lead to queues.

People are being urged to check with their local council for details of which recycling centres are open, how to access them, what materials are being collected and information of what social distancing measures are in place. Only sites which can be adapted to make sure everybody is safe will be opening, with some centres requiring people to book in advance.

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David Roberts

Diolch Owen!!