Posted: Thu 28th May 2020

COVID-19 contact tracing in Wales to be phased in from 1 June

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, May 28th, 2020

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Tracing the contacts of those who have recently tested positive for coronavirus will get underway in Wales next week.

The ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy aims to develop a way for people to live and work alongside the virus whilst containing its spread.

First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce on Friday some easing of the lockdown measures.

Relaxation of those measures will be dependent on everybody following the advice set out in the test and tracing strategy.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “We have made further progress in developing our testing capacity and making sure that we will be ready for contact tracing.

Future relaxations of lockdown measures will be dependent on everyone following advice set out in our Test, Trace, Protect strategy, including self-isolating when required.

The scale of testing capacity needed in Wales and indeed across the UK to support these purposes and in particular Test, Trace, Protect is unprecedented.

We have significantly increased testing capacity in recent weeks with current laboratory capacity of over 9000 tests a day, and we expect to have capacity for 10,000 tests a day in the near future.

Critical workers and the public can access home testing kits via the UK government website and we will shortly open up public access the testing sites currently being used by our critical workers across Wales.

These are important preparations for the launch of population contact tracing on 1 June.”

Having appropriate testing arrangements in place will be crucial to ensuring we understand the spread of the virus.

“I am very aware of the sacrifices that people have made during lockdown.

I recognise that we will continue to ask people to play a significant role in controlling the spread of the disease, by self-isolating with their households when they have symptoms and getting themselves tested.

This system will only work if people willingly play their part and continue to protect others.” Said Mr Gething.

Testing will allow people who are symptomatic, but not positive, to come out of self-isolation as soon as possible.

The contact tracing programme will implemented on a phased basis developing, pilots having been running in four health board areas including the Betsi Cadwaladr are since 18 May.

Each pilot has been designed and delivered by local authorities working in partnerships with health boards.

This has allowed for systems and processes to be tested in different parts of Wales.

“We will implement learning from the experience in each pilot.

From 1 June, we will implement population contact tracing on receipt of a positive test result.” Said Mr Gething. 

Contacts of people with symptoms will only be traced if they test positive as only 12% of tests are returning a positive result.

If everyone with symptoms was subject to contact tracing it “could result in many people being asked to isolate when there is no positive case”, Mr Gething said.

The health minister said: “The people of Wales are our greatest asset in the fight against COVID-19, we must retain their support and their trust.

We need people to play their part and follow the advice to isolate when asked.

We will need to develop an approach to contact tracing which maintains the continued and widespread public support and adherence to public health messages.

It remains the case that anyone who is symptomatic must self-isolate along with their immediate household.”

Test, Trace, Protect will work by:

  • Identifying those who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, enabling them to be tested while isolating from wider family, friends and their community.
  • Tracing those individuals who have been in close contact with the symptomatic person, requiring them to take precautions and self-isolate (for 14 days).
  • Providing advice and guidance, particularly where the symptomatic individual or their contacts are vulnerable or at greater risk.
  • Ensuring that if the individual tests negative and the symptoms are not due to coronavirus, individuals and their contacts can get back to their normal routines as soon as possible

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