Everyone in England to be offered two rapid weekly Covid tests
The tests will be available for free at pharmacies, testing sites and through the post
Everyone in England will be able to have access to two lateral flow test kits from Friday 9 April, as the government massively extends its testing programme.
Along with being able to pick up a testing kit, which delivers a result in about 30 minutes, at testing sites, people will now also be able to have kits delivered in the post to their home or pick them up from pharmacies. All the tests provided will be free-of-charge.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the expansion of the testing programme would help "squash any outbreaks" as lockdown eases. Meanwhile Boris Johnson said: "As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our road map cautiously easing restrictions under way, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted."
The news about tests being made more available to the wider public is expected to be accompanied by the trialling of coronavirus passports, in moves that the government hope will allow the return of mass-audience events in the coming weeks and months.
However the plan for the passports is expected to face opposition from dozens of Tory MPs, including senior members of the party, as the Prime Minister faces a potential rebellion.
Meanwhile the expansion of the testing programme has been labelled as a "scandalous" waste of money by one expert. Professor of public health at Newcastle University, Professor Allyson Pollock, said: "Mass testing is a scandalous waste of money.
"When the prevalence rate of coronavirus falls as low as it is at the moment then an increasing proportion of cases are likely to be false positives meaning that cases and contacts will self isolate unnecessarily."
Prof Pollock went on to say that it is likely that mass testing "is going to do more harm than good."
However, the government have said that the rates of false positives are less than one for every 1,000 tests, and that the rapid tests are useful at detecting high levels of virus.
The plans are set to be announced along with other updates about the re-opening of pubs, non-essential shops, and the prospect of foreign leisure travel this year when Boris Johnson holds a Downing Street briefing later today.