People living in Swansea can now go for a free Coronavirus test if they have a wider range of symptoms, Swansea Bay NHS has announced.
In addition to the three well-known symptoms of a fever, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change of taste and smell, you will now be able to get a test if you have other symptoms.
These symptoms include:
- Flu-like symptoms including muscle ache or pain, excessive tiredness, persistent headache, a runny or blocked nose, persistent sneezing, sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
- Generally feeling unwell and having a history of being in contact with a known Covid-19 case
- Any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test
These additional symptoms that now allow testing are known symptoms of Covid but are not reported as often as the 'classic three' in adults. However, they may be more common in children.
The change has been brought about in an attempt to find hidden Covid cases in communities in Swansea and drive down the numbers of transmissions.
"Identifying infections which could otherwise go undetected is particularly important as new variants emerge and schools re-open," Swansea Bay NHS wrote in an announcement.
"The more tests are carried out, the easier it will be to spot early clusters of cases and possible virus mutations. This will help with easing restrictions in the future."
The new testing regime will run for at least 28 days initially, before a review.
The tests will also be available for those living in Neath Port Talbot.
A new regional testing centre is opening in Baglan, with the capacity to carry out around 2,800 tests a day. The centre joins testing centres at the Liberty Stadium as well as a number of mobile testing units across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
Swansea Bay UHB Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid, said:
"Demand for tests in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot has come down considerably since the end of 2020 so we have capacity to expand the offer of testing and help people confirm whether their illness is COVID.
"While the number of positive cases has come down, the rate has levelled off recently and is now showing signs of plateauing.
"This suggests the virus is still circulating at an unacceptably high rate in our communities, so we need to be both innovative and proactive in what we do next.
"This is especially important as schools re-open for onsite teaching.
"We are also aware of the risks posed by the COVID variants, and the need to identify them, if they are also circulating, as soon as possible.
"Our aim is to find as many COVID infections as possible so we can then help prevent the virus being passed on to others. Ultimately we want to safeguard people and help bring the pandemic to a faster close."
Dr Reid said that the the very low rates of flu circulating in Wales this winter made it practical to now expand testing this way, as the service would not be overwhelmed by flu cases presenting for a test.
Having flu-like symptoms, but with very low flu cases around, also meant the likelihood of it being COVID-19 was higher, he said.
People who have any of the new symptoms and wanted a test should ring 119 or book online by clicking here
As these are national contacts, you may automatically be asked about the classic three symptoms.
However, simply choose either option: "you have been asked to take a test by your local council" or "you are part of a government pilot project" to book your test.
You can also ring our local number: 01639 862757 and speak to an operator who will book your test. (Local operators will be briefed about the new local testing regime.)