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Covid testing issues ‘may take weeks to resolve’

Some mobile testing units will be transferred to the Welsh NHS after issues with Lighthouse labs.

Image caption Testing at a drive-in mobile unit in Rhondda Cynon Taf on Saturday

Some mobile testing units will be run by the Welsh NHS in a bid to control potential outbreaks after UK lab issues, the health minister has said.

On Friday tests in Wales were capped after increased demand saw UK-wide issues.

Vaughan Gething said the issues could go on “for weeks” and Wales would not rely on the Lighthouse labs programme.

But Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said the issues came after a “huge demand for tests”.

Number of Covid-19 tests in Wales Authorised tests per day

The mobile testing units are new, run under the Lighthouse labs partnership between the private sector and UK and devolved governments.

Each unit can normally carry out around 300 tests a day – but high demand around the UK as cases have risen has meant a limit of 60 was set for each mobile unit in Wales by the UK government.

Capacity problems at the labs have resulted in people being asked to travel long distances to access drive-through tests, with some people reported being offered tests more than 50 miles (80km) from their homes.

Image caption A mobile testing unit was set up in Porth, Rhondda, on Thursday and moved to Clydach Vale at the weekend

Following a local lockdown imposed in Caerphilly, officials were told this week they had just days to “get on top of” rising infections in Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT).

But on Friday, Council leader Andrew Morgan had said a “huge effort” would have to be made after the cap was introduced by the UK government.

On Sunday, Mr Morgan confirmed that the area now had 300 drive through tests and 300 walk in tests available, following the limitations.

Discussions with the UK Government’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock led to the limit being increased to 150…

James Williams

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