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Free Covid lateral flow tests only available to certain people from Friday

The UK government has stated that free coronavirus tests will only be available to certain people from this week.

Universal testing is set to come to an end on Friday (1 April).

This means people will have to pay if they want to get a lateral flow test.

The measure 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 revealed on Tuesday (29 March), free symptomatic testing will be provided for certain people, such as patient-facing NHS workers.

Who can still get a free Covid test?"

  • 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 who are 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 these proposals, asymptomatic lateral flow tests will also continue next month for certain settings where the possibility of coronavirus spreading quickly is at a high level.

This including NHS staff dealing with patients, and staff in hospices and adult social care services, such as homecare organisations and care homes.

The tests 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.

Testing will also be provided for residential SEND, care home staff and residents during an outbreak and for care home residents when they're admitted.

The guidance also advises that those people with 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 do test positive for Covid should stay at home for five days and avoid contact with others.

Talking 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."

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