Coronavirus: Testing rolled out to NHS staff in Wales

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Non-urgent operations have been cancelled in north Wales

Frontline NHS staff in Wales are to be screened for coronavirus to help the health service cope with the outbreak.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said it would be “detrimental” if staff were forced to self-isolate for up to 14 days because other members of their household showed symptoms.

Testing would allow those with negative results to return to work in hospitals.

The roll-out was announced after the number of confirmed cases across Wales rose to 149.

Mr Gething said capacity for testing coronavirus is to be increased, with a phased roll-out of testing for healthcare workers involved in frontline care.

In a statement he said testing will be prioritised for patients, healthcare workers and others “where recommended by health board medical directors”.

“Current guidance for the public remains that individuals displaying symptoms of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature are being asked to self-isolate at home for seven days and testing of these individuals is not routinely recommended,” he said.

“Also, when any member of a household is symptomatic, the other members of the household should stay at home for 14 days.

“Keeping essential service workers off work for 7-14 days will be detrimental to the running of those services compared to providing a negative result that would allow them to return to work.”

Operations cancelled

Meanwhile, one health board in Wales has cancelled all non-urgent outpatient appointments and operations, as from Thursday, because of the outbreak.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) in north Wales said it needed to “focus resources” on on caring for the expected influx of Covid-19 patients.

However it would still prioritising patients in need of the urgent care, such as cancer treatment.