Coronavirus testing extended to all care homes in Wales
More than a quarter of deaths in care homes in Wales and England between March and May involved coronavirus.
Data published on Friday by the Office of National Statistics show that up to May 1, 532 care home residents have died after either testing positive for the virus, or showing symptoms.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething has now announced that all staff and residents in Welsh care homes will be tested for the virus.
Previous to today’s announcement, the Welsh Government policy meant blanket testing for COVID-19 was only taking place in care homes with 50 residents or more.
Alyn and Deeside’s MP Mark Tami said last week he was ‘very concerned’ about the policy.
He wrote to Vaughan Gething outlining concerns that a “huge” number of care homes across Wales are being “seriously disadvantaged.”
Mr Gething said the move to extended testing to all care home residents is a result of the “latest scientific evidence.”
The government says the new policy builds on existing arrangements which includes testing all residents and staff of care homes with ongoing cases prior to May.
Testing all those discharged from hospital to live in care homes regardless of whether they were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 or not.
And testing all residents and staff members of care homes that report an outbreak.
However, one senior assistant from a privately run care home in Flintshire – who asked not to be named – contacted Deeside.com.com earlier this month after being told there was ‘not enough capacity’ to test everyone following the positive diagnosis of a resident for coronavirus.
Announcing today’s move, 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.”
Responding to the announcement, Shadow Minister for Social Care, Janet Finch-Saunders MS, said:
“Care homes have some of society’s most vulnerable and for that reason I have been urging the Welsh Government for weeks to extend Coronavirus testing to cover all care home residents and staff.
As I said at the time, expanding the testing in care homes can reduce the spread of Covid-19 among our most vulnerable and incredible staff.
It is about time that my calls have been answered by the Welsh Government, but it is shameful that the expansion could not have been implemented sooner given that capacity in testing is increasing.”
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