NHS Adds Nine New Covid Symptoms As Free Lateral Flow Tests Are Axed
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The NHS has added nine more symptoms of Covid to its official list.
Lateral flow tests are no longer free to the general public, as of 1 April, however, free testing will still be available to patient-facing staff in the NHS and NHS commissioned independent healthcare providers.
Staff in hospices and adult social care services will also be eligible for free tests, as well as staff in some prisons, a small number of care home visitors who provide personal care and staff in high-risk domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings.
The NHS has also updated its official symptoms list for Covid, with nine more symptoms being listed in addition to the three symptoms typically associated, which include: a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; and a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell.
The new symptoms now also include: shortness of breath; feeling tired or exhausted; an aching body; a headache; a sore throat; a blocked or runny nose; loss of appetite; diarrhoea; and feeling sick or being sick.
At the bottom of the list the NHS notes: "The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu."
The health service still maintains its general guidance to stay at home and avoid contact with people if you have symptoms of Covid, and either a high temperature or if you 'do not feel well enough to go to work or do your normal activities'.
In addition to professionals who are still eligible, some people with Covid symptoms will also be able to claim free tests, as per Sky News.
This includes patients in hospital where PCR tests are required for care, those who are high risk and those who need tests before being discharged from hospital.
Those who test positive for Covid are still recommended to stay at home for five days.
Health Secretary 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."
Javid went on to say that vaccines remain 'our best defence', and that the government will be offering spring boosters to the elderly, care home residents and those most vulnerable.
The end of free testing comes as Covid cases continue to rise, however, the government have said that free universal testing, tracing and isolation has come at a 'significant cost', with £15.7 billion being spent between 2021 and 2022.