Covid-19: First 'Lighthouse lab' opens in Newport

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Scientist at the Lighthouse laboratoryImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The lab will test samples from across Wales and England to increase UK capacity

Wales' first specialist Covid-19 lab is opening in Newport having been delayed since August.

The hope is the new Lighthouse facility will process 20,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

Miles Burrow, managing director of PerkinElmer, which set up the lab, said tests would be done within 12 hours and returned to patients within 24.

The Newport lab, at Imperial Park, was originally being built as a pathology lab for Public Health Wales (PHW).

It had been hoped the lab would be up and running in August - the UK government did not explain the delay, but PHW said it was due to "ongoing recruitment" and laboratory "validation".

Currently, 15 of Wales 22 counties are under lockdown - including Newport itself.

Mr Burrows told BBC Radio Wales: "It will speed things up ultimately by adding more capacity to the whole of the network."

He said samples could "theoretically" come from anywhere in Britain but he expected them to come mostly from Wales and the South West.

"It's difficult to say what proportion will come from Wales but most of the tests that come here will be coming from Wales, south-east Wales area, and also the south-west of England," he said.

"The idea is that results will be given back to patients in a 24-hour period so we have to turn tests around in a 12-hour period."

Lighthouse labs are managed by the UK government and run by private firms.

The Newport lab was "upscaled" after being given to the Lighthouse network.

Mr Burrows said: "There was some additional work that was needed to ensure that the high scales that we are operating to could be facilitated."