Coronavirus: Dramatic fall in home testing speeds in Wales

By Paul Martin
BBC Wales political reporter

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Image caption, The data measures the time between a sample is collected to the time the result is "authorised" in the lab

The speed at which coronavirus home tests have been processed in Wales has fallen dramatically.

In the final week of August, 8% of home tests were processed within a day and only 24% were processed within two days.

At the end of July, 50% of home tests were processed within a day and 88% within two.

Welsh Government statisticians said the fall was due to demand exceeding Lighthouse laboratory capacity.

The delays have also meant that less than half of home tests had been processed within three days - this figure was 99% in July.

Lighthouse labs are a UK-wide network of specialist coronavirus laboratories and most Welsh tests are processed in them.

On Tuesday, the UK government apologised for the delays at Lighthouse labs and a backlog at the labs has led to a drop in available testing slots.

Capacity problems at the labs have also resulted in people being asked to travel long distances to access drive-through tests.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Coronavirus cases have been rising in Wales in recent weeks

Coronavirus cases have been rising in parts of Wales over the past few days, with 165 new cases reported by Public Health Wales on Wednesday.

The spike has seen Caerphilly county placed in Wales' first local lockdown after 151 cases in the past seven days.

Meanwhile, 100 cases have been reported in Rhondda Cynon Taff, prompting the council to open a temporary testing centre at Oldway House in Porth from 09:30 BST on Thursday for one week.

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In a statement on Tuesday, the Welsh Government said: "We have raised this issue with the UK government, which runs the Lighthouse lab testing system and we expect these issues to be resolved quickly to ensure people in Wales who have suspected coronavirus symptoms can receive a test as close to home as possible.

"We have recently announced £32m to increase capacity to process tests at laboratories in Wales, which includes extending our regional labs to 24-hour operation and six new 'hot labs' at hospitals across Wales.

"This investment will increase our testing resilience ahead of the winter."

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