The Government has changed guidance for people in the UK trying to order a free lateral flow test a week earlier than planned to discourage the public from competing with at-risk groups because of limited supplies .
According to the government”live with Covid“It is planned that the provision of free rapid tests to people in the UK will end on April 1. However, those who are trying to order lateral flow tests from the ordering platform It has been officially announced since Monday evening that most people no longer need to check in as often.
“Most testing is now needed for people at higher risk of illness in the UK,” reads the updated guidance, adding that people “who have no symptoms of Covid-19 no longer need to be tested.” rapid lateral flow tests as well”.
More than 590,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK in the week to 22 March, up 20% from the previous week. Scotland hit a record high with 2,221 Covid patients on March 21.
Around 12,247 Covid patients were hospitalized in the UK in the week to March 19, up 23% from a week earlier. However, almost three-fifths of Covid-positive patients in UK hospitals do not receive primary treatment for the disease.
A notice on the government’s website said recommendations had been made “to ensure tests are available to those who need them most”, including NHS staff, vulnerable people and those who need them most. visit high-risk facilities.
An employee at the Department of Health said the guidance was changed soon to “manage demand” and to prevent “free for all” when people try to buy kits ahead of free testing. Wide-ranging fees are ended at the end of the month.
Another health official said the public could still order tests but added that the supply limits were designed to encourage non-vulnerable people “to question whether they need testing.” or not” or alternatively “allow those people in [at-risk] groups to prioritize”.
Plans to cut free universal testing in the UK from the beginning of April has sparked criticism from experts who warn it will make the pandemic harder to track and make the virus spread faster.
The UK is currently under control of a new outbreak of infections, fueled by impaired cautious behavior and the spread of the sub-variant Omicron BA.2 is more transmissible, about 30% more transmissible than the original Omicron.
Healthcare bosses on Tuesday called for clarification on whether NHS England staff will be able to access free, rapid tests from next month. So far, free testing has only been promised to social care workers.
“When faced with a cost of living crisisMany staff will not be able to afford to regularly buy their tests, said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of NHS Confederation.
The UK Health Security Agency said: “As set out in Living with Covid, from 1 April free tests will only be available to certain groups most at risk from virus. In preparation for this change, home-ordering channel gov.uk will require users to order test kits only if you are eligible for new Covid-19 treatments, work or status volunteering in a high-risk environment or assisting people who are at higher risk from Covid-19. ”
Separately, on Wednesday, the House of Commons public accounts committee found that the UK government was “unprepared for a pandemic like Covid-19” and called on ministers to “introduce central leadership”. strong leadership, accountability and oversight” so that departments are better positioned to respond to the next crisis.