Why you can't book an online coronavirus test as a critical worker yet in Wales

An online booking system to speed up the way in which critical workers can get tested for coronavirus is due to go live in Wales tomorrow.

It comes as millions who are eligible to get tested applied for an appointment in England, as the online booking system went live on the UK Government website.

The country's health secretary Matt Hancocksaid eligibility was being extended to all critical workers last week, with Wales announcing it would do the same - but there are some notable differences on either side of the border.

A drive-through testing centre opened in Builder Street in Llandudno

The Welsh Government said its web-based system, which was piloted last week, has been created to ensure the process is "as quick and easy to use as possible".

  • How can critical workers get tested?

A drive-through testing centre in Llandudno opened on Wednesday, with another site in Carmarthen starting testing critical workers from Thursday.

A site at Cardiff City Stadium was the first centre to become operational with another set up at Rodney Parade in Newport.

At the moment, the Welsh Government said the online system will only be available for those booking a test at the Cardiff and Newport drive-through testing centres.

The site at Cardiff City Stadium was the first to open to test NHS staff and other critical workers
  • How are tests being arranged?

People who are eligible to be tested in Wales are currently referred to a nearby testing site by their local authority.

On 15 April, the Health Minister commissioned a review of the testing regime following concerns not enough tests were being carried out under the current system.

The Welsh Government said despite not meeting its target of testing 5,000 people a day, it plans to "significantly scale up" its testing programme. It said increased testing will take place hospitals and care homes, for patients, residents and staff - and anyone leaving hospital to return to a care home will be tested, even if they are not showing any symptoms.

The results of that review can be read in full here.

Online slots for millions in England were available to book on the UK Government website from 8am on Wednesday.

England has also extended testing to social care workers and residents - regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. Those over 65 and those who live with them are also eligible, but that is not the case in Wales.

The option to book a test in Wales was unavailable as the system has not yet been set up Credit: UK Government

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The new centres and online system will help to make testing more accessible and speed up referrals.

“I want to ensure that the process is as quick and easy to use as possible so that people are not left waiting for appointments and so can keep critical services up and running by enabling workers to get the tests they need quickly and easily.”

There are 438,000 critical workers in Wales which includes social care workers, police, fire service, prison workers and teachers.

The number includes 164,700 healthcare workers and 9,900 police and prison staff.

The broad categories of critical workers includes:

  • health and social care workers

  • public safety (emergency workers) and national security workers

  • local and national government workers

  • education and childcare workers

  • food and other necessary goods

  • transport

  • utilities, communication and financial services workers

  • key public service workers

During Wednesday's press conference, Jeremy Miles AM told ITV Wales' reporter Owain Phillips, "We’ve been trying to build up our capacity with success. We are keen to make sure people have the best opportunity to take those tests. That will start to be rolled out to the public in the coming days."

Health minister Vaughan Gething had been criticised for 'abandoning' Wales' testing target of 5,000 a day

The Welsh Government had been criticised by the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab for "abandoning" its testing target of 5,000 a day in Wales.

He had reiterated that they were confident in England their target of 10,000 a day would be met, but argued the four nations "must come together" to deliver.

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