Wales will have thousands of rapid turnaround coronavirus tests within a matter of weeks.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said plans are now being made about who will get the tests, who will carry them out and where.
Revealing early plans for the so-called Lateral Flow Tests, which deliver results in as little as 30 minutes, the First Minister said testing in care homes are part of the discussions.
Tests for care home staff as well as residents and family wanting to visit could, potentially, mean people could see and hug loved ones again, as they are at some homes in England.
It was agreed at a meeting of UK-governments last week that tests would be made available on a population basis.
“We will look at ways in which the new generation of Lateral Flow Tests, these fast turn around tests, can best be deployed in Wales,” the First Minister said at the Welsh Government coronavirus briefing on Friday, November 20.
“It was agreed at the meeting last week that tests will be shared across the UK on a population share basis, which means that shortly we will be getting thousands of these tests a day.
“We need to plan now for how best to use these tests, both thinking about settings where they will be most effective, but also the sheer practicalities: how the tests arrive in Wales, how they get distributed to where they are needed, how people can be trained to use them effectively, how results of tests can be fed back into the health records in the NHS of those people.
“These are significant challenges that are being worked on very hard at the moment and care home staff and residents in care homes – you can be sure- are very much part of our coversations.”
Asked whether the mass testing in Merthyr, due to start tomorrow,might soon take place in other parts of Wales, or settings, Mr Drakeford said the experience in Merthyr would inform that.
“Our aim is to put this in place in Merthyr on a sort of learning basis. When we have learned what works, and what doesn’t work, in a Wales context, we hope we will be able to use that to see if where we will be able to do this again in some other parts of Wales, where the need arises.”
Students are being asked to have a fast turn around test before heading home for Christmas, but universities in Wales have warned they won’t be able to test all the students in the time-frame needed.
The Welsh Government is also looking at the possibility of mass testing in schools, on the advice of the Technical Advisory Group.
Headteachers and teaching unions have broadly supported that, saying it could help prevent whole year groups being sent home to self isolate if there is one case. It would also help detect asymptomatic cases causing outbreaks and closing classes.