Plaid Cymru have warned Welsh Government that “going backwards” on testing will not break the lockdown after First Minister Mark Drakeford today published Welsh Government’s framework for exiting the lockdown.
The First Minister suggested some restrictions in Wales could be eased at the end of the current three-week lockdown period.
However, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM warned that without a “clear plan for a Wales-wide mass testing programme” with a strategy of testing, tracing and containing, Wales could not prepare for lifting lockdown restrictions.
The Shadow Health Minister said current Welsh Government strategy had been of “regressive testing – not ramping up” and cited the failed and scrapped target of 8,000 and 5,000 daily tests by April.
Wales is currently testing on average 800 key workers a day out of a capacity of 1,300 daily tests. A target to test 5,000 people by mid-April was scrapped earlier this week.
The First Minister confirmed an online testing booking portal – which already exists in England, would be launched this week in Wales however that has not materialised.
Mr ap Iorwerth said Wales should follow the example of South Korea, which has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world, who adopted the strategy of testing, tracing and containing early on.
Adding that without vaccines or new treatments, the only way to break the lockdown was by adopting the same strategy of testing, tracing and containing.
Mr ap Iorwerth said this meant mobile and drive-in testing centres the “length and breadth of Wales” with results returned within 24 hours, an increase in daily testing capacity and “thousands tested every day”.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said,
“The World Health Organisation advice has always been clear. To deal effectively with Covid-19, we have to test, trace and contain.
“With 237 deaths, South Korea have the lowest mortality rate in the world and have succeeded in keeping a semblance of normality because they adopted the strategy of testing, tracing and containing early on.
“However, the current Welsh Government strategy has been one of regressive testing – not ramping up. Daily testing of key workers is currently in the hundreds not the thousands. Targets have been missed and then scrapped. The First Minister said the online testing booking portal – which already exists in England, would be launched this week in Wales. There’s no sign of it. Another missed target.
“We can’t prepare for lifting lockdown restrictions without a clear plan for a Wales-wide mass testing programme – testing, tracing and containing, just like South Korea. Without a vaccine or new treatments, there is no other alternative.”
“This means mobile and drive in testing centres the length and breadth of Wales with results returned within 24 hours. A huge increase in daily testing capacity. Thousands tested every day.
“Going backwards on testing is no way to break the lockdown.”