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Covid update – universal testing offer

A universal testing offer for the Lateral Flow Devices (LFD) will be available from collection sites and as a direct to home service from Friday, 9 April. Anyone will be able to access asymptomatic testing for secondary aged pupils and above through the most appropriate channel and pick up self-test kits if they request one.

This will help manage the risk of increased transmission associated with the next stage of the roadmap. It will:

  • simplify the offer by removing explicit eligibility criteria – anyone in England who is not subject to specific testing policies (such as the borders testing, care home PCR testing) will be able to access a test at site, collect self-test kits to take home or order a test kit direct to their home
  • target enduring transmission of Covid, by focussing on areas with high transmission rates. The aim is to drive up testing where prevalence of the virus remains high and vaccine uptake is lower.

Providing easier access to self-testing means significantly more people can access regular twice weekly testing and aims to find infectious cases and help mitigate the risk as the country moves from lockdown.

A confirmatory PCR, for home testing, will remain the eligibility gateway for the Test and Trace Support Payment (TTSP) for self-reported positive test results. For more details on home testing: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

Community Testing will continue to play a significant part in this effort. We now have the freedom to start to widen eligibility for self-test in line with local priorities. Which means in addition to any local priorities, anyone can pick up self-test kits if they request one.

In addition, follow-up tests are now encouraged for all positive LFD test results irrespective of the situation under which the test was taken. Previously there was no requirement for a follow-up PCR test following an assisted positive LFD test result (assisted test is where the person takes the test under supervision and the result is reported by a trained operator).

This will reduce the number of people self-isolating unnecessarily because of false positives from LFD tests in areas of low population prevalence of Covid.

NHS Test and Trace are strengthening communications to emphasise the importance of reporting and acting on results from home tests. This will focus on instilling a habit of testing and reporting.

The NHS will become the primary online channel for communicating testing information to the general public. The NHS website coronavirus hub will be extended with new, clearer guidance on the options available and where to find tests. Additionally, NHS Test and Trace will focus communication efforts on regions of high prevalence, under-represented groups, and disproportionately impacted groups, where enduring transmission is highest.

We will of course be promoting this for our residents and updating our website, together with the LRF, districts and other partners, as we get more updates from the government website – https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus