England to subject all residents to 2 Covid-19 tests weekly
London, April 5, 2021 (AltAfrica)-Everyone in England is to be given access to two rapid coronavirus tests a week from Friday, under an extension of the government’s testing programme.
The lateral flow kits, which can provide results in around 30 minutes, will be available for free at testing sites, pharmacies and through the post.
The tests are already offered to school children and their families plus those who have to leave home for work.
The health secretary said the plan would help squash future outbreaks.
But critics of the programme say it risks becoming a “scandalous” waste of money.
It comes as Boris Johnson is due to meet the cabinet to sign off the next stage of lockdown easing in England, which will see non-essential shops open from 12 April.
Later, the prime minister will hold a Downing Street briefing, where he is expected to outline plans for coronavirus passports to enable mass-audience events to take place and confirm a traffic light system will be introduced when international leisure travel resumes.
Mr Johnson hailed the plan to offer everyone testing from 9 April, saying: “As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our road map cautiously easing restrictions under way, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.”
The rapid tests are aimed at those without any Covid symptoms and can be taken at home.
The government introduced lateral flow testing for secondary school children and staff earlier this year, under plans to reopen classes in England by March.
In February, the scheme was extended to the families of all school and college-age children in England.
Kits were also offered to those who cannot work from home in the pandemic, so they can be tested twice a week.
From 9 April, kits will be available through:
- Community testing sites operated by local authorities
- Collection from a nearby PCR test site during specific time windows
- Existing workplace testing programmes
- An online home ordering service with kits then delivered through the post
- Participating local pharmacies where a box of 7 tests can be collected to be used twice a week at home
Anyone who tests positive using a lateral flow test will be expected to self-isolate along with their household. They can then order a second PCR Covid test, typically used for symptomatic cases, which will be sent off to a laboratory for analysis.
If the confirmatory test comes back negative, their quarantine period is considered over immediately and they can resume normal life. BBC