Every British adult will get two free Covid tests a week! Boris outlines huge new scheme

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People will be able to order the rapid “lateral flow” tests to be delivered to their homes or collect them from pharmacies from Friday even if they do not have coronavirus symptoms. They can also be tested in many workplaces or at community sites. Last night the Prime Minister said the move will step up his Government’s test and trace programme that is designed, along with the high-speed vaccine roll-out, to stop the coronavirus pandemic in its tracks.

Mr Johnson said: “Massive efforts have been made by the British public to stop the spread of the virus.

“As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our roadmap to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.

“That’s why we’re now rolling out free rapid tests to everyone across England – helping us to stop outbreaks in their tracks, so we can get back to seeing the people we love and doing the things we enjoy.”

Health officials say the tests – funded by the NHS and therefore free at the point of delivery – will help the Government collect data about new Covid outbreaks to track the future spread of the disease.

A Government advertising blitz will be launched on Friday to raise awareness of the availability of the tests.

And updates will be sent to the NHS Covid-19 mobile phone and tablet computer app to coincide with the new testing offer. The app has been downloaded by an estimated 22 million Britons.

The latest test-and-trace move is designed to ensure the reopening of businesses set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown goes ahead on schedule.

Rapid testing has so far been available to those most at risk and people who need to leave home for work, including frontline NHS workers, care home staff and residents, and schoolchildren and their families.

Following the latest announcement, rapid testing will be offered to everyone.

Covid tests: Boris Johnsons says everyone will be able to get two free tests a week

Covid tests: Boris Johnsons says everyone will be able to get two free tests a week (Image: GETTY)

Ministers will encourage as many people to take up the tests as possible, although they will not be compulsory.

The decision to step up the test-and-trace programme follows concerns about the fact that around one in three people infected with Covid-19 do not experience any symptoms and maybe spreading the virus unwittingly.

Anyone testing positive will be expected to isolate themselves at home immediately to minimise the risk of spreading the bug.

More than 120,000 cases of infection have been identified through lateral-flow tests since the high-speed technology was introduced.

Ministers hope the increased testing will help break the chains of Covid transmission and save lives.

It is also expected to help identify and track the emergence of new Covid variants that could beat the protection offered by the current coronavirus vaccines.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Around one in three people who have Covid-19 show no symptoms, and as we reopen society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.

“The vaccine programme has been a shot in the arm for the whole country, but reclaiming our lost freedoms and getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly.

“The British public have shown over the last year that they quickly adapt and always do what it is right in the interest of public health, and I know they will do their bit by getting tested regularly in the months ahead.”

Officials insist getting a Covid test will now be “quick and convenient.”

More than 100,000 businesses in England have registered their interest to provide rapid tests to their employees.

Officials say the twice-weekly Covid tests will be offered through:

• A home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home;

• Workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home;

• Community testing, offered by all local authorities;

• Collection at a local PCR test sites during at specific times;

• Testing on-site at schools and colleges.

A new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service is also being launched to provide an additional route to regular testing.

People aged over 18 without symptoms will be able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of seven rapid tests to use at home.

Households will be able to get information on Covid testing at the web page NHS.UK/get-tested

The free Covid tests scheme will begin on Friday

The free Covid tests scheme will begin on Friday (Image: GETTY)

If testing at home, individuals will need to register their results online or by calling 119, and self-isolating if positive and ordering a confirmatory PCR test.

Officials say anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should book a test online or by calling 119.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 strategic response director at Public Health England and Chief Medical Adviser to NHS Test and Trace, said: “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.

“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.”

The Department for Health says analysis from NHS Test and Trace shows that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is less than one false positive result.

Lateral flow tests detect cases with high levels of virus and are very effective in finding people who don’t have symptoms but are very likely to transmit the disease.Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “We’ve long called for mass testing for those with and without symptoms as a key element in tackling the spread of the virus.

“But to break transmission chains and suppress infections, testing must go hand in hand with community public health led contact tracing to find cases and must be backed up by decent financial support so sick people can isolate.

“People who are sick with Covid are still forced to choose between self-isolation or feeding their families. Lack of adequate sick pay and support remains a dangerous hole in our defences against this horrific virus.”

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