Coronavirus: How do I get tested in Wales?

Media caption, How do people get tested for coronavirus?

With more than 630 people having already been tested in Wales for the coronavirus Covid-19, health boards are gearing up for testing more in the community.

How is testing being organised?

  • Tests can only be for people who have been told they should take one, by arrangement and appointment only - and usually through the NHS 111 service
  • People with an appointment who have a car will be invited to drive to their local mobile testing unit - and will be asked to put on a mask and gloves and be given a testing pack through their car windows
  • You take a simple throat swab, pass the kit back to staff - who operate stringent infection control measures and have personal protective clothing - and drive away
  • The idea is for people who have their own car to be able to take a simple test without needing to visit a health centre or hospital
  • Health boards are stressing that people should not just turn up and they are not walk-in services. If you do not have an appointment, you will not be seen
  • For those who have no car, you can be tested at your own home
  • People are then asked to self-isolate while the swab is analysed - which normally takes around 24-48 hours and they are contacted by Public Health Wales (PHW) with the results.
  • If they worsen they can contact PHW and be picked up by ambulance and taken to hospital.

Where are the mobile testing centres?

Image source, Swansea Bay HB
Image caption, Demonstrating how testing will work

Betsi Cadwaladr has opened three drive-through community testing units (CTUs) at Rossett clinic, Wrexham, Bryn y Neuadd Hospital in Llanfairfechan, Conwy and Ysbyty Alltwen in Porthmadog, Gwynedd.

Dr David Fearnley, executive medical director, said: "Our community testing units are not drop-in centres. Testing will only be available for people who have been referred there following a diagnosis through the NHS Wales 111 service.

"Anybody with symptoms of coronavirus should contact the NHS by dialling 111 before visiting any healthcare setting, including hospitals or GP practices."

Swansea Bay health board has opened its testing centre in a former changing rooms at a sports field off the M4 in Neath Port Talbot,

Keith Reid, the health board's director of public health, said:

"The demand for testing people for Covid-19 is growing, so it is important that we are able to provide a convenient and safe way to provide tests in a timely way, and which makes the best use of our hard-working staff."

Powys put its CTUs in place in the last week - with patients with appointments being told their locations.

"It's crucial that we help residents in our area to get accurate, timely testing where appropriate. Testing, whether at home or at a testing unit, offers support for people to get tested promptly, said Stuart Bourne, public health director for Powys Teaching Health Board.

"The NHS is working hard and services across the country are putting in place practical measures to help people get tested for coronavirus. The prompt testing of individuals is one of the measures we can take to help contain and delay the spread of infection".

The Hywel Dda health board have opened units in Cardigan and Carmarthen and say more may open in other areas of the health board during the coming weeks, as necessary.

Director of public health Ros Jervis said: "Like other health boards, we have been undertaking tests for Covid-19 in people's own homes. The demand for this is likely to get greater and we have planned additional capacity to deal with this by opening our CTUs.

"This will allow us to undertake far more tests for appropriate patients, who have used the 111 pathway."

Meleri Jenkins, senior infection prevention nurse, added: "We do want them to come by car, not buses or taxis. If they can't we can give them the option of screening at home."

Cwm Taf is currently undertaking tests in people's homes and "in the process of arranging a dedicated testing unit for our area and details will be shared once it becomes operational".

Aneurin Bevan health board said it would be opening its drive-through test centres by the end of this week.

Cardiff and Vale said its CTU would be available to those with a pre-arranged NHS appointment only. "If you feel you have symptoms please follow the advice given by Public Health Wales to direct you to the appropriate place," said a spokesman.

Image caption, NHS Direct 111 call centre is taking calls

What do I do if I think I need a test?

Step One: Go to the online symptom checker for advice.

Step Two: : If advised by the online symptom checker, public health officials say then dial 111. This now applies all over Wales.

They will be then be asked a series of questions to see if they need a further conversation and may then be asked about their travel history and symptoms.

Management say they are dealing with large volumes of calls, are asking people to be patient as there could be a delays but say they are getting back to everyone.

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