Wales’ first Lighthouse Lab is now open

A specialist laboratory in Newport which will help boost the UK’s Covid-19 testing capacity has officially opened.

WalesOnline reports the lighthouse lab, based at Imperial Park, aims to process twenty thousand tests per day by the end of this month.

The facility began processing its first samples on October 5th and has created two hundred jobs.

It was hoped that the lab, part of the UK Government’s Test and Trace strategy, would be up and running in August.

While the UK Government hasn’t explained the delay, Public Health Wales said “ongoing recruitment” and laboratory “validation” had pushed back its official opening date.

Miles Burrows, managing director of PerkinElmer UK & Ireland, which runs the lab in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), said tests would be completed within twelve hours and returned to patients within twenty four hours.

He said “It is imperative to have a dedicated testing strategy that rapidly identifies individuals carrying the virus, and we’re pleased to have the Newport facility to help fulfil this mission.

“Our best-in-class technologies are ideally suited to align with DHSC’s desire to ramp up testing.

“Laboratories across the UK will be able to maintain maximum capacity, while also being able to quickly respond to evolving public health needs.”

PerkinElmer says its technology will lead to “rapid sample processing” at higher volumes, helping to decrease turnaround times.

It is understood most of the tests being processed will come from Wales and the south west of England.

The company is also creating a new lighthouse lab in Charnwood, Leicester, which is expected to be in operation by the end of November.

It will be able to process up to fifty thousand tests daily upon reaching full capacity in January 2021 and will create up to four hundred jobs.

Department of Health and Social Care laboratories are said to be processing more than one million Covid-19 tests a week.

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