ACCESS to free lateral flow device coronavirus tests (LFDs) in Wales is to be extended until the end of July.
Tests will be available to members of the public showing symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature a new, continuous cough, a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), alongside free access for people visiting someone eligible for new Covid-19 treatments.
The announcement comes following a rise in cases, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recent survey reporting an increase in cases across the UK.
An estimated one in 45 people in Wales currently have Covid-19.
The emergence of the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are also contributing to this increase as they become more dominant across the UK.
Wales’ Health minister Eluned Morgan has also announced the following testing will continue to be in place:
- LFD and PCR testing for those eligible for Covid-19 treatments.
- PCR testing for Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses for symptomatic care home residents and prisoners.
- PCR and LFD testing under the patient testing framework and when clinically advised including pre-operative hospital patients and care home residents returning from inpatient hospital stays
- LFD testing for symptomatic health and social care staff.
- Twice weekly LFD tests for asymptomatic testing for health and social care staff
Those visiting people in care homes should continue to test using tests provided by the care home they are visiting.
Self-isolation payments of £500 will end on June 30, while the Covid-19 Statutory Sick Pay Enhancement scheme will be extended until August 31 to support social care staff to stay away from work due to testing positive.
Ms Morgan, said: “Testing has been an effective tool in breaking the chain of transmission and with an increase in cases its vital that we keep testing in place to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
“As we have seen before, Covid can quickly change, I am announcing this extension in response to the changing picture and new variants of concern.
“I would also ask people to take protective measures to protect the more vulnerable in the community, wear masks in health and care settings, stay at home if you test positive, and take up the offer for the vaccine.
“We know that the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, I would urge those eligible to have their spring booster if they have not already had it, the booster is available until June 30.
“Covid has not gone away, whilst we are learning to live safely with it, we will continue to monitor the situation and as we have done for the last two years, we will work together to Keep Wales Safe.”