A NEWPORT family had to drive more than 100 miles for a coronavirus test for their eight-year-old son.

Sarah Bellanato, 40, wanted to book a test after son Rhys developed a cough.

But after she and her husband spent hours trying to book a test locally, they found the only one they could book within five days was in Aberystwyth.


“Both my husband and I were looking for a test for my son, so if he tested negative, he can get back in school as soon as possible,” said Mers Bellanato.

“We couldn’t get any drive through or walk-in tests. This continued for a couple of hours.

“We live in Newport and I work in Hereford and Gloucestershire, so I was trying to book a test on that side of the bridge as well.

“At about 12pm, we got one in Aberystwyth. It was the only one we could get for five days. The latest ones were around 2.45pm-3pm.

“I effectively had to put my son straight in the car and go straight away.”

South Wales Argus:

Sarah Bellanato and her family had to travel more than 100 miles to Aberystwyth for a coronavirus test. Picture: Google Maps

Mrs Bellanato said she was lucky that they were able to make the journey, but was concerned for people who either did not drive or were not able to travel such distances for a test.

“A lot of the mothers at school I know don’t drive, so if it was them, they wouldn’t be able to get there and get a test,” she said.

“We were given a number to ring if there were any issues booking online. When we couldn’t book online, we rang it but couldn’t get through. It just said ‘At this time we are very busy. Try again in a couple of hours’.

“If anyone’s showing symptoms and can’t get through, they’re pretty much stuck.

“I know they are struggling and its really difficult right now, but it is just frustrating.”

Mrs Bellanato, who works in social care, said they were told they would receive their results back in two to five days, and are isolating at home until given the all-clear.

“When I had a test [through work] previously, it came back in two days,” she said.

“If it took five days, and it comes back negative it’s fine, but it is frustrating having him off school for that long.

“If it comes back negative after five days, that’s basically halfway through our isolation anyway, so what’s the point of getting our results back at all?”

When asked earlier this week about the problems people are having booking tests, health minister Vaughan Gething admitted the situation is "wholly unsatisfactory."

"It’s deeply frustrating," he said.

"The challenge does still appear to be, at the heart of all of this, the ability within the Lighthouse Lab programme (UK Government-run testing network) to have enough lab capacity to test all of the samples that are being taken.

"The challenge is, there are more people who want a test than there is the capacity to test them and keep up with demand.

"We are already seeking to move five of the mobile testing units that we deploy in areas of higher spikes.

"We are moving those away from Lighthouse Lab testing. Those results for those five units will now take place within our Public Health Wales labs here in Wales.

"They provide more reassurance about the speed of the return of the results, which I know is an issue at present with Lighthouse Labs too, but it will also add extra capacity.

"We are not just commenting on the challenges in the UK-run Lighthouse Lab programme. We are actually taking proactive steps here in Wales to move our own capacity to deal with the very real issue that we face."