Woman swabbing herself as part of Covid testing

Access to weekly rapid testing to be expanded to everyone across England

In order to continue effective Covid-19 tracking and control within community settings, everyone in England will soon be able to access free, regular rapid testing.

From April 9, 2021, people across England will be able to access twice weekly rapid lateral flow tests (LFDs), as part of the Government’s strategy to carefully continue to reopen more aspects of society.

Up until now, rapid testing has been used for those most at risk and those who have needed to leave their homes regularly, including frontline NHS workers, care home staff and residents and schoolchildren and education staff.

Rapid testing has played a significant role in finding asymptomatic cases, with one in three people who test positive for Covid-19 not experiencing any noticeable symptoms and therefore at risk of unwittingly spreading the infection. Quickly identifying these cases means those who test positive can isolate and break chains of transmission.

Since rapid testing was introduced, more than 120,000 positive cases have been identified which otherwise would have likely gone undetected.

Speaking during an announcement to the nation, Prime Minister Boris 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 and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock added: “Around [a third of] people who have Covid-19 show no symptoms.

“As we reopen society and resume parts of life, which we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.”

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