Covid tests will remain free for certain people, it has been confirmed.
Universal testing is set to come to an end on Friday (1 April), meaning people will have to pay if they want to get a lateral flow test.
It comes as part of the UK government's 'Living with Covid' plan, with the virus being treated like other respiratory infections.
However, according to the new plans, which were set out today (29 March), free symptomatic testing will be provided for:
- Patients in hospital, where a PCR test is required for their care and to provide access to treatments and to support ongoing clinical surveillance for new variants;
- People who are eligible for community COVID-19 treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. People in this group will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms as well as being told how to reorder tests; and
- People living or working in some high-risk settings. For example, staff in adult social care services such as homecare organisations and care homes, and residents in care homes and extra care and supported living services, NHS workers and those working and living in hospices, and prisons and places of detention (including immigration removal centres), where infection needs to be identified quickly to minimise outbreaks. People will also be tested before being discharged from hospital into care homes, hospices, homelessness settings and domestic abuse refuges.
Under the proposals, asymptomatic lateral flow tests will also continue next month for certain settings where the possibility of coronavirus spreading quickly is high.
For example, patient-facing staff in the NHS, staff in hospices and adult social care services, such as homecare organisations and care homes.
They will also be available for a small number of care home visitors who provide personal care, staff in some prisons and places of detention and in high risk domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings.
In addition, testing will also be provided for residential SEND, care home staff and residents during an outbreak and for care home residents upon admission.
The guidance also advises those symptoms of Covid - including children - or other respiratory infections should "try" to stay home and "avoid contact with other people" until they feel better and have no high temperature.
Those who rest positive for Covid should stay at home for five days and avoid contact with others.
Speaking about the changes, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said: "Thanks to our plan to tackle Covid we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus. We have made enormous progress but will keep the ability to respond to future threats including potential variants.
"Vaccines remain our best defence and we are now offering spring boosters to the elderly, care home residents and the most vulnerable – please come forward to protect yourself, your family, and your community."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy