Everyone In England Will Be Given Access To Two Rapid Home Covid Tests A Week Even If They Don’t Have Symptoms
The government is urging people to request home testing kits and use them twice a week as society starts to unlock (Alamy)
From next week anyone can access free rapid coronavirus tests to take at home as part of the government’s plan to re-open society after lockdown.
Everyone in England will be able to request lateral flow tests (LFDs) for themselves and their families to use twice a week from 9 April, three days before non-essential shops, hairdressers and hospitality can welcome customers again.
Rapid testing can help detect Covid-19 in those who do not have any symptoms and may spread the virus unwittingly, and ministers hope this mass expansion of the programme can prevent a rise in cases as people begin to socialise again.
So far LFDs have been available to those most at risk from the disease, and people who need to leave home for work, such as frontline NHS workers, care home staff and residents.
Home testing kits have also been given to pupils to use at home as schools are back open, and more than 100,000 businesses have registered their interest in providing them to their employees.But now everyone is being encouraged by the government to take regular tests “to help prevent outbreaks and help us reclaim a more normal way of life”.
They say alongside the vaccine rollout “regular testing is going to be an essential part of the easing of restrictions”, and is central to their aim of detecting new Covid variants and preventing their spread.
Health 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.”
There will now be a home ordering service for LFDs, alongside community testing being offered by all local authorities, and the ability to collect kits at local PCR test sites during specific times.A new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service is also launching, where people can pick up a box of 7 rapid tests to use twice a week at home from their local chemist.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the 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.”