Health Minister Eluned Morgan has spoken about changes to the PCR testing system, with the number of tests at a record high in Wales.

Daily bookings at sites have reached up to 28,000 since Christmas day, the highest during the pandemic which has seen nearly 400 million PCR test carried out in the UK.

Eluned Morgan said:

“The first change will mean that people who are unvaccinated contacts of positive cases and are self-isolating for 10 days should now take a lateral flow test on day two and day eight instead of a PCR test. This will help to increase PCR testing capacity.  This change will come into effect immediately.

“Secondly, we have agreed that if a person showing no symptoms has a positive lateral flow test, they will no longer be advised to have a follow-up PCR test to confirm the result, unless they are in a clinically vulnerable group, which may need early access to treatment or have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme.”

This change will come into effect from January 6, and is estimated to reduce PCR test demand by between five to 15 per cent.

Everybody is urged to report the result of their lateral flow tests and to self-isolate if a test results positive.

Eluned Morgan continued: “NHS and social care staff access testing from our NHS Wales laboratories. We may need to introduce further changes to protect PCR tests for key workers through the UK testing programme if demand continues to grow in the coming days and weeks.

“We may also need to introduce other temporary emergency interventions for non-vulnerable symptomatic individuals to manage demand and safeguard capacity to find the cases most likely to result in harm.

“We recognise these changes will potentially increase demand for lateral flow tests. There are no current issues with supplies but we are aware of issues with distribution for people to access tests at some collection points including pharmacies. More than four million tests were distributed to workplaces, people’s homes and collection points in Wales last week.”