SOME 4,000 people from Wales may have been given wrong negative PCR Covid test results, the Welsh Government has said. 

It’s estimated some 43,000 people may have been wrongly told they had tested negative for Covid after taking the laboratory PCR tests for confirmation after a positive from an at home lateral flow test. 

NHS Test and Trace has suspended testing operations provided by Immensa Health Clinic Ltd at its laboratory in Wolverhampton, following an investigation into reports of the conflicting results. 

The errors relate to test results given to people between September 8 and October 12, mainly in the south west of England, but with some cases in the south east and Wales. 

Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan has issued a statement today on the impact in Wales and said it is estimated the majority of these false tests will have been taken at testing sites across the Gwent and Cwm Taf Morgannwg areas. 

She said the government was made aware last week of reports that a higher than expected number of positive lateral flow tests were resulting in negative PCR tests and that this was being investigated by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). 

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The UKHSA, formerly known as Public Health England, had said there are no technical issues with test kits themselves and people should continue to test as normal. 

Ms Morgan said: “My immediate concern is the information and support for the Welsh residents impacted and I have asked Public Health Wales to provide additional support and advice to the affected health boards in addition to the UKHSA communications. 

“They will also be assessing the potential impact of this incident on the case rates and epidemiology reports for Wales. 

“We will continue to work closely with UKHSA and NHS Test and Trace on the findings and actions needed.” 

Anyone who had a test from October 4 and received a result from the affected laboratory will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace by text message and/ or e-mail and advised if it was negative to book an appointment to be re-tested.   

It will also advise that their close contacts who are symptomatic book a test. People who had a test processed at the laboratory between September 8 and October 4 will also be contacted and advised to get a test if they have symptoms.  

The health minister added: “Our advice to everyone remains that if you have symptoms to self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test.” 

She also said the government has been told the issue is isolated to the Wolverhampton lab does not involve the wider network including the IP5 laboratory in Newport that processes the majority of Welsh samples.  

The UK Government awarded Immensa a £119 million contract in October 2020 to urgently “develop volume for PCR testing for Covid in line with test and trace requirements”, the contract shows. 

The contract did not go to tender under rules allowing urgent responses to the pandemic. 

According to the Immensa website, the firm was new to Covid testing. It said: “In 2020, we adapted and evolved into Covid-19 testing, taking advantage of our laboratory network, scientific expertise, and digital systems to deliver world-leading Covid-19 testing solutions.” 

Andrea Riposati, chief executive of Immensa Health Clinic Ltd, said: “We are fully collaborating with UKHSA on this matter. 

“Quality is paramount for us. We have proudly analysed more than 2.5 million samples for NHS Test and Trace, working closely with the great teams at the Department for Health and UKHSA. 

“We do not wish this matter or anything else to tarnish the amazing work done by the UK in this pandemic.” 

Additional reporting by Jane Kirby, PA Health Editor

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