Testing units established to diagnose Novel Coronavirus in North Wales NHS staff

New drive through testing units have been established at three locations across North Wales to support the response to tackling Novel Coronavirus (COVID 19).

At this stage, the testing units will only be providing priority testing for identified NHS workers involved in the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This will reduce the risk of NHS staff infecting other patients, or having to take time off work to self-isolate if they developed symptoms, without confirmation of whether they have the virus or not.

The testing units, which have been established following advice from Public Health Wales and the Welsh Government, are located at Ysbyty Alltwen, Tremadog; Bryn y Neuadd Hospital, Llanfairfechan; and on the grounds of Wrexham Maelor Hospital. The units in Llanfairfechan and Tremadog will begin testing tomorrow (Friday 20th March), with the Wrexham unit beginning testing on Monday.

Testing units had been established to provide priority testing during the official containment phase of the outbreak, but were stood down as the UK moved into the delay phase.

The new units are not operating a walk in service and will not provide testing to NHS staff without an appointment.

There is no additional risk to people living in the immediate vicinity of these units. A range of precautions and infection prevention measures have been considered and put in place, including strict clinical protocols and the use of Personal Protective Equipment, to keep staff, patients and people living and working nearby safe.

Teresa Owen, Executive Director of Public Health at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “The Testing Units will provide testing for NHS staff who have a crucial role to play in tackling the Covid-19 outbreak.

“They are not offering a walk in service, and we ask the public not to visit the units, as they will not be tested, but may cause delays for NHS staff. I would like to provide reassurance that there is no additional risk to people living in the immediate vicinity of these units.

“We urge people to continue to follow the latest advice from Public Health Wales. People no longer need to contact NHS 111 if they think they may have contracted Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). People with a fever or persistent cough should stay at home for seven days if they live alone, or 14 days if they live with others.

“Anyone who lives with someone displaying coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate and stay at home for 14 days. They should not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. 

“They should only contact NHS 111 if they feel they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, their condition gets worse, or their symptoms do not get better after seven days.”