NHS staff in Wales will now be able to be tested for coronavirus (Covid-19) as a matter of priority.
This is part of plans to speed up their return to the frontline, and after mounting pressure for testing to be ramped up for healthcare workers.
The Welsh Government said: ‘Essential workers, including healthcare workers involved in frontline patient-facing clinical care, will be prioritised for testing to help slow down the spread of the virus.
‘Anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus should self-isolate’.
Covid-19 has now been diagnosed by every Welsh health board, and the country currently has 191 confirmed cases. However, Public Health Wales stressed that the true figure is likely to be higher.
Wales has also reported its third death of a patient who had tested positive.
The news of increased testing has been welcomed, but the Doctors’ Association UK would like to see it expanded elsewhere in the UK.
Its co-founder Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden said: ‘NHS staff in Wales will be relieved that testing for Covid-19 will now be extended to healthcare workers.
‘As the situation stands currently, any healthcare worker with a household member who is unwell is advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
‘The NHS is incredibly short-staffed as it is, we cannot afford for any single clinician to be off work for 14 days. Testing will allow NHS staff to return to the frontline where they are so desperately needed.
‘The Doctors’ Association UK is now calling on NHS England to follow suit as a matter of urgency.’
Many GPs have recently had to self-isolate for the stipulated two weeks if anyone in their household developed symptoms, despite not knowing for sure if they had the virus.
However, NHS staff will now be offered free hotel accommodation if someone they live with has potential symptoms, to avoid being absent from the clinical workforce.
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and health select committee chair Jeremy Hunt are among the key figures who have also spoken on the topic of increased testing within the NHS.