THE Grange University Hospital near Cwmbran will host one of six new 'Hot Labs' in Wales to be equipped with rapid coronavirus testing equipment.

The labs form part of an investment of nearly £32 million aimed at delivering faster results for contact tracing, to ensure Wales is prepared for any increases in cases during the autumn and winter.

The Hot Labs will be based at acute hospitals and will be able to deliver test results in under four hours. They should be up and running in November,

They will also have new testing equipment for other conditions to free up staff to work on coronavirus testing, and will operate from 8am-10pm, seven days a week.

The Welsh Government investment will also fund extra staff and equipment for Public Health Wales regional laboratories at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, Morriston Hospital in Swansea, and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Rhyl, so they can operate 24/7 from October.

“This investment will ensure we have the laboratory capacity in Wales to deliver our Test, Trace, Protect strategy to keep coronavirus under control, and be ready for the winter," said health minister Vaughan Gething.


"I hope we don’t need to use all the testing capacity this investment will create, but we have to be prepared. The science tells us the virus will spread more quickly in the colder, wetter months so we can expect an increase in spread later this year.

"This investment will increase our resilience and ensure our testing and contact tracing systems are robust enough to deal with whatever winter brings.

"We all want to be able to return to normal life and to ease restrictions as much as possible.

"Our Test, Trace, Protect strategy is key to achieving that, by enabling us to quickly identify people with coronavirus symptoms; identify new hotspots and isolate as many contacts as possible.”

Public Health Wales chief executive Tracey Cooper said the investment will enable fundamental changes to be made to laboratory services to significantly increase capacity and resilience, "both in the context of the current pandemic and in the longer term".

“We are already working behind the scenes to implement these changes and have recently launched a recruitment drive to recruit up to 160 staff into the new roles made possible by this investment,” she said.

"The initial outlay on staffing and new equipment is expected to be nearly £8m and the cost of carrying out tests is expected to vary between £8-24m, depending on demand.

The six new Hot Labs will be based at: Grange University Hospital, near Cwmbran; Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli; Morriston Hospital, Swansea; Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend; Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil; University Hospital, Llandough.