Everyone in England will be able to access two free rapid covid-19 tests a week from 9 April the government has announced
From 9 April anyone will be able to access free, rapid lateral flow tests (LFDs) for themselves and their families to use twice a week, in line with clinical guidance. The significant step, alongside the vaccine rollout, will pave the way for businesses and society to reopen after lockdown.
The regular testing will be delivered through multiple streams including: an online home ordering service, workplace testing programmes, community testing programmes provided by local authorities, collection at local PCR test sites, testing on-site at schools and colleges, and a new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ Service which will provide an additional route regular testing.
Rapid testing is currently only available for those most at risk and for those needing to leave home for work. As one in three people with covid-19 do not experience any symptoms, the new regular rapid tests will help prevent and contain outbreaks so a more normal way of life can resume. Since LFDS rapid testing was introduced, over 120,000 positive cases of covid-19, that would not have been found, have been identified.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 strategic response director at PHE and chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, said: ‘I encourage everyone to take up the offer of these free rapid tests, they are quick and easy to carry out in your own home.
‘Rapid testing helps us find Covid-19 cases that we wouldn’t otherwise know about, helping to break chains of transmission. These tests are effective in detecting people that are infectious and therefore most likely to transmit infection to others. They are another tool we now have to help maintain lower infection rates.’
The government has already introduced a scheme for regular rapid Covid-19 tests in the workplaces of 50 or more staff, to provide safer working environments for sectors where employees cannot work from home. Already 100,000 UK businesses have registered their interest.