COVID: Who can still benefit from free lateral flow tests from this Friday? | Political news

Free COVID tests will still be available for certain groups after universal testing ends on Friday – but they could still be rolled out again if a new, concerning variant emerges, the government has announced.

As the pandemic enters a new phase, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said COVID would begin to be treated like other respiratory infections.

Free lateral flow testing for people without symptoms is set to end on Friday but will remain for some groups, Mr Javid said.

Groups that will continue to have access to asymptomatic lateral flow testing are:

• NHS patient-facing staff and independent NHS-commissioned healthcare providers

• Staff in hospices and adult social services such as nursing homes and home care

• A small number of nursing home visitors providing personal care

• Staff of certain prisons and places of detention

• Staff in high-risk shelters for domestic violence and in homeless settings

These groups will receive asymptomatic lateral flow testing during an outbreak:

• Residential schools for special needs and people with disabilities

• Nursing home staff and residents (also on admission)

The announced plans also revealed that free testing will continue for some people with symptoms of COVID – these include:

• Certain patients in hospital where a PCR test is required for their care and to provide access to treatments and to support ongoing clinical monitoring for new variants

• People who are eligible for community COVID treatments because they are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill – these people will be contacted directly and given home lateral flow tests to use if they have symptoms

• People will be tested before being discharged from hospital to care homes, hospices, homeless facilities and domestic violence shelters

Friday’s guidelines say people with symptoms of COVID or other respiratory infections should “try” to stay home and “avoid contact with other people” until they feel better and do not have a high temperature. This includes school children.

Those who test positive for COVID should try to stay home for five days.

Mr Javid said: “Through our COVID plan, we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus.

“We have made tremendous progress, but we will retain the ability to respond to future threats, including potential variants.

“Vaccines remain our best defense and we are now offering spring reminders for the elderly, care home residents and the most vulnerable – please come forward to protect yourself, your family and your community.”

Back To Top