CARE home staff in Gwent, along with those in much of the rest of Wales, will be moved to a fortnightly cycle of coronavirus testing from next Monday, August 10.

Weekly testing of staff in all care homes in Wales was introduced on June 15, and was extended last month until August 9.

Health and social services minister Vaughan Gething said that after the latter date a move to fortnightly testing would take place if prevalence rates of Covid-19 infection within care homes remained low.

"I am pleased to report that thanks to the vigilance and commitment of care home managers and staff, prevalence rates have continued to remain at low levels," he said today.

"Accordingly, the majority of care homes will move to a fortnightly testing cycle from August 10. We will continue to closely monitor the data and I will review the policy in eight weeks, in early October."

Staff at care homes in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area will continue to be tested weekly however, due to the rates of positive tests in care homes in north Wales - although relatively small in number - being higher than in the other areas of Wales during the past few weeks.

Mr Gething said the higher prevalence rates for the wider population in north Wales compared to other areas of Wales, together with outbreaks in some communities in the region, may have impacted on its care homes. Weekly testing there will thus continue for the next eight weeks with close monitoring of the situation.


He has also announced that from next Monday, all regular testing of care home staff should the Lighthouse laboratories programme.

Lighthouse Labs is a national diagnostic laboratory network, backed by the UK scientific community, to support the fight against coronavirus.

A Lighthouse Lab is being created at Imperial Park in Duffryn, Newport - building on a £5 million investment to develop a Public Health Wales laboratory there - and is expected to be up and running by the end of this month.

"My officials have been speaking with the care homes sector and health boards to ensure support is provided to care homes who have previously undertaken the regular testing of their staff through the health boards and their laboratories," said Mr Gething.

"The NHS Wales laboratories should be used for testing any staff and residents in care homes who are presenting symptoms of Covid-19, and in response to any outbreaks in care homes."