Coronavirus: Delay to ensure test booking system is 'robust'

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image copyrightWales News Service
image captionA test centre at Cardiff City Stadium opened earlier this month

A delay in launching an online booking system for coronavirus tests for key workers in Wales has been defended by the first minister.

Mark Drakeford said the system launched in England on Friday had "fallen over within a couple of hours" and he wanted the system in Wales to be "robust".

The Welsh Government is working with online retailer Amazon on a website.

Mr Drakeford had said he wanted the system operational last week, but now hopes it will be running "next week".

He told the BBC's Politics Wales programme: "We've been testing the system over this week.

"We've been using it already with some workers to make sure that it will withstand the pressure it's bound to come under and we hope to be able to use it more extensively next week.

"In England, where you've seen, they've used it for the last two days, the system has fallen over within a couple of hours of it being released, and that's because of the demand that that system came under.

"We want to try and make sure that our system will be robust from the first day."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMore testing sites are opening in addition to the one in Cardiff

Key workers in England and Scotland can apply through a UK government website for tests if they are showing symptoms.

However, the website says there are currently "none available" for people living in Wales or Northern Ireland.

The website closed temporarily to new applicants within hours of its launch on Friday, after 46,000 people tried to access it.

Tests at drive-through sites in England were booked up within an hour on Saturday morning, with spaces not becoming available again until the evening.

A Welsh Government target of 5,000 tests a day has been abandoned, with Health Minister Vaughan Gething saying that number of tests was not needed because of the impact the lockdown has had on infections.

A new drive-through testing unit for key workers is being set up this weekend on the showground in Carmarthen.

The unit, which is due be operational by Thursday, will support existing facilities providing tests for key workers in west Wales, according to Public Health Wales (PHW).

Other test centres have opened in Cardiff and Newport.

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