The Rhondda AM has welcomed a Labour U-turn on testing in care homes but said more is needed.
Leanne Wood AM was reacting to the news that the Welsh Government is to begin testing in care homes of 50 residents or more, regardless of whether any residents have symptoms or not. The policy reversal follows heavy pressure from Plaid Cymru to begin testing and tracing in care homes – some of which have been devastated during the Covid-19 outbreak, killing many residents.
Plaid Cymru is calling for the policy to be extended to all care homes, not just the larger ones, both in the public and private countries. “Testing in care homes where there are no symptoms of this virus must be universal,” said Ms Wood. “Asymptomatic staff in Covid-19 hotspots have been tested in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board area for just over a week. This is because we know that Covid-19 can be passed on by those showing no symptoms.
“It is not right to penalise the staff and residents in smaller care homes – all staff and residents deserve to have the confidence that Covid-19 is not present and being transmitted before symptoms begin to show.
“We know from the World Health Organisation that coronavirus can have an incubation period of 14 days which means the virus can be well established in any care home before the first person with it begins to fall ill.
“This Labour Government policy favours urban areas where large care homes are much more common than in towns and villages. It creates a postcode lottery that is unfair to the care home residents, their families and the staff in more rural areas.”
She added: “Plaid Cymru wants to see more testing but it is vital that is coupled with tracing of those who have come in to contact with those testing positive. This has been the best practice in countries which have managed the effects of coronavirus much better than we have.
“These countries are now beginning to relax the restrictions they imposed to keep the population safe. Until we know where the virus is by testing and tracing of Covid-19, we cannot be confident about safely relaxing the lockdown.”
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