HEALTH MINISTER Vaughan Gething has announced an extra £50m to allow health boards to extend contact tracing over the summer.
The additional funding, on top of £10m previously agreed, will keep the current contact tracing workforce until the end of September 2021. It will also support and enable continued improvements of the contact tracing digital system.
The Health Minister has also announced today that people who are close contacts of someone who has tested positive and have been asked to isolate by contact tracers will now be offered a coronavirus test.
Close contacts will be asked to take a test as they start their self-isolation period and again on day eight. If you are identified as a contact you will still need to isolate for the full 10 days even if the test comes back negative as it can take up to 10 days or more for symptoms to develop, or for the virus to appear in your system.
As of the end of February, contact tracers in Wales have reached 167,226 (99.6 per cent) positive cases who were eligible for follow-up, together with 382,494 (95 per cent) of their close contacts and advised people whether or not they need to self-isolate.
Mr Gething said:
“Although new case numbers have responded well to the current lockdown restrictions, there are significant uncertainties around the trajectory of the pandemic which means it is highly likely we will need to maintain a substantial contact tracing operation for the foreseeable future.
“Even with the roll-out of the vaccination programme, testing and tracing will remain a vital part of our approach as lockdown restrictions ease and to tackle any new variants as people arrive from overseas.”
Testing programmes continue to be developed and are being rolled out in schools, workplaces, care homes, hospitals and by emergency services.
This week we have published a framework for testing for hospital patients in Wales to prevent coronavirus from entering hospitals undetected, to prevent its spread within hospitals and to ensure the safe discharge of patients to their home or to community care.
Under our workplace testing framework we are working with a number of public and private organisations including the police and fire and rescue services on plans to regularly test their workforces to find asymptomatic cases and break chains of transmission.
The model for contact tracing will continue to be reviewed over the course of 2021.