Minister visits Newtown to see success of Covid testing centre

Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan visited Newtown in her first official engagement in Powys since taking on her new role.

Eluned Morgan
Eluned Morgan

The minister visited the asymptomatic testing centre in Newtown to meet workers from Powys County Council, Powys Teaching Health Board and Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust who have been leading the county's partnership approach to 'Test Trace Protect'.

The centre is providing free walk-in rapid Covid-19 lateral flow tests for people without symptoms, from 10am to 6pm every day until July 4. It aims to help the local NHS and local authority to understand more about the spread of new variants, including the Delta variant, and to be better prepared for future waves of coronavirus.

Councillor Rosemarie Harris, leader of Powys County Council, welcomed Ms Morgan to the centre on Park Street and said: "We are very grateful to the minister for visiting the facility and meeting our hard working staff in the Test Trace Protect programme in Powys.

"We are proud of the local partnership working to develop and deliver Test Trace Protect in the county, and for the support of people and communities for the steps they continue to take to Keep Powys Safe"

Ms Morgan, minister for health and social services in Wales, said: "The Test Trace Protect system in Wales has proven successful thanks to the strong partnership between local authorities and local health boards, and the incredible work of their staff whose knowledge of their communities has been instrumental in its success.

Vital

"I witnessed at first hand the incredible work of the Newtown testing team and how they are keeping Wales safe.

"Testing remains a vital tool in tackling the virus, about one in three people who test positive for Covid-19 do not have any symptoms but can still infect others. Unfortunately the virus has not gone away and with the emergence of new variants like the Delta variant, I urge people to get tested to stop the spread."

Stuart Bourne, director of public health for Powys Teaching Health Board said: "Anyone can catch coronavirus and anyone can spread it, which is why it's so important to get tested when you are showing symptoms or when advised, and to access lateral flow test if you don't have symptoms.

"With Delta cases on the rise, including in Powys, it's more important than ever that we take steps to prevent the spread, and testing is one of those steps. Today we had the opportunity to share first hand with the minister the determined work of our staff to offer testing, provide contact tracing, and to protect the people of Powys."

The testing centre is a partnership with Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, whose staff are sharing their skills and experience so that our own Test Trace Protect staff in Powys can establish a testing centre quickly in the county when needed.

Paul Cassidy, the Welsh Ambulance Service's head of service for its mobile testing units, said: "We're really pleased to be working with partners at the asymptomatic testing site in Newtown, and welcome the opportunity to deliver training to colleagues so that they're able to run asymptomatic testing centres as needed in future."

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