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08th Jan 2022

Free lateral flow tests to end as country to be told to live with Covid

Callum Boyle

Free lateral flow tests are set to be axed as part of new plans for living with Covid

Free lateral flow tests are set to be axed as part of plans for living with Covid, which Boris Johnson is set to announce in the coming weeks, the Sunday Times exclusively revealed.

Currently, there are an unlimited number of free LFTs available, with the public urged to test twice every week and those testing positive with symptoms eligible to request a free PCR test.

However a senior Whitehall source believes that it is no longer feasible to continuously use free LFTs and instead scale back, but have the capacity to increase the rate of testing if required.

“I don’t think we are in a world where we can continue to hand out free lateral flow tests to everybody for evermore,” they told the Times.

“It’s likely we will move to a scenario where there is less testing but where we have a capacity to ramp it up if necessary, such as in the winter.”

It means that the new system set to be announced is likely to see free tests provided in high-risk settings such as hospitals and care homes after more than £6 billion of public money has been spent on mass testing using LFTs.

The news comes after Nadhim Zahawi recently became the first cabinet minister to back calls for the self-isolation period to be reduced from seven days to five.

Last summer, Britain became one of the first countries to “live with Covid” by lifting all restrictions as well as resisting to implement stricter guidelines such as lockdowns through the winter and scientists are now accepting that coronavirus will never go away.

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