Wales to receive 5,000 daily Covid tests before UK Gov stepped in – Public Health Wales Chief Exec
Wales was due to receive 5,000 coronavirus tests a day from a company before the UK Government stepped in, the Chief Executive of Public Health Wales said today.
Questioned by Ynys Môn Member of the Senedd Rhun ap Iorwerth, she confirmed that the Welsh Government had an understanding with the company before the tests were “brought into the UK allocation”.
Plaid Cymru said that the UK Government had “gazumped” the Welsh Government, but the Welsh Conservatives pointed out that no deal had been signed.
Speaking before the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee today, Public Health Wales Chief Executive Tracey Cooper said they had “discussion with the company early on in the process to look at securing daily tests”.
“We were in the discussions with Roche and that was the understanding that we had, through discussion and email correspondence,” she said.
“And that was in advance of it then being then brought into the UK allocation, which has happened with a couple of companies.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS asked: “So in a way Welsh Government had done well to get discussions going early with Roche, they said they could deliver 5,000, then the UK Government stepped in and we lost that 5,000?”
“Yeah. And I think what the UK Government, the allocation at that time, was a full 5,000 for the UK,” Tracey Cooper replied. “So it’s challenging for ourselves, challenging for the UK, but the allocation we’re getting now is more than on a relative population basis.”
“But less than we thought we were getting at one stage?” Mr ap Iorwerth asked.
“A lot of people will find that shocking and I’m glad that we’ve had that confirmed.”
Tracey Cooper confirmed that Wales eventually received 900 tests from that allocation.
Welsh Conservative Member of the Senedd Andrew RT Davies however said that the discussions with Roche did not amount to any kind of deal.
“The First Minister claimed the Welsh Government had a deal with Roche for testing but they have no information or evidence to show that was the case – indeed they don’t hold anything of that nature,” he said.
“Apparently Public Health Wales were in ‘dialogue’ with the company. Quite a difference.”
By the end of April, Welsh Government had promised 5,000 tests per day, rising to 9,000 by mid-May.
Yet Wales still has days where only 900 tests a day are carried out – well below the 9,000 target set out by the Welsh Government.