As the government turns down to provide free Covid-19 tests in the UK, new advice is now being given on who should and should not order a test.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will end free coronavirus testing from April 1 as part of his “Living With Covid Plan”. Despite this, some vulnerable people and those working in health and care settings will still have access to free tests where rules are enforced only for the general public.
Prior to the rule change, however, people have reported that they have difficulty ordering free tests online – despite the fact that they should still be available. A spokesman for the UK Health Safety Agency said: “To ensure an even distribution of lateral flow tests across the county, people can order a package of seven within a 72-hour period from gov.uk.
Read more: Greater Manchester’s latest coronavirus infection rates as the number of cases increases in each borough
“This reflects recent testing changes as outlined in the Living with Covid plan. We would encourage people to order test kits only if they need them and only after using the kits they already have at home.”
But now a new message appears on the government’s website when they try to order a free lateral flow test, warning the user that “most people without Covid-19 symptoms no longer need to take rapid lateral flow tests.”
Although the message does not directly prevent the user from ordering their test kit, it does seem to discourage them from doing so. More of the message reads: “Some people still need tests to stay safe, such as:
- NHS staff
- People at higher risk
- People who visit high-risk places. “
It comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, with many people expressing concern about the lack of free testing. Caroline Derbyshire, chair of the Headteachers’ Roundtable group and head of trust at the Saffron Academy Trust in Essex, told the PA news agency she had “too many employees left with Covid”.
She added: “The government seems to have largely drawn a line during the pandemic and has moved on, but the evidence from our schools and colleges is that business is still very far from being back to normal.
“Staff and students will continue to have access to Covid tests until the end of March and are therefore able to check whether any Covid symptoms are in fact Covid, and, if necessary, isolate.
“The concern is that when the free trial stops, as the government is currently planning, the number of students and staff entering classrooms with Covid could increase even more and lead to even more disruption to education. There is still a real problem. with coronavirus in our schools and colleges, which the government must not ignore.
“Testing is one of the few tools we still have to reduce transmission among students and staff, and the government must reverse its decision and continue to provide free testing to people working or studying in educational settings after the end of March and in the foreseeable future. ”