Major change to Covid testing rules this week – are you affected?

NEARLY all remaining Covid testing will be scrapped from Saturday under plans to live with the virus.

Asymptomatic testing for patients arriving at hospitals and care homes will be scrapped from April 1, the UK Health Security Agency said.


Covid testing is being wound down from Saturday as Britain continues to live with the virus[/caption]

Staff and residents in homes will also no longer be tested routinely when they feel unwell, and all PCR tests outside of the NHS will be ditched.

Most asymptomatic testing in hospitals was paused last August, but the latest move will formalise its end for many.

Dr Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said: “Fewer people now experience severe illness due to vaccinations, infection-related immunity and treatments.

“This means we are now able to further bring our testing programmes in line with management of other viral infections whilst still maintaining focus on those at highest risk.  

Covid and other respiratory illnesses haven’t gone away and simple actions, like washing your hands and staying at home when unwell, can make a big difference. 

“For those at highest risk of severe illness, the spring booster programme also provides an opportunity to keep immunity topped up.”

Rapid testing at care homes and other high-risk settings will continue for patients who are symptomatic and already eligible for Covid treatment.

Some NHS staff with symptoms working with severely immunosuppressed patients will also be offered tests.

Symptomatic hospice staff, patients being discharged from hospital to care, and patients showing signs of the virus that are moving wards will also continue to be tested.

PCR testing will only continue to be used for NHS patients who need it to access treatment.

Free tests were scrapped in April 2022 as part of the Government’s drive to live with Covid.

Routine asymptomatic testing for patients and visitors arriving at English hospitals was paused in August last year but is now officially over.

What Covid testing is ending this weekend?

Routine testing will end for the following groups and settings:

  • Routine asymptomatic testing, including testing on admission, for staff and patients will now end across all health and social care settings including hospitals and care homes. The majority of this testing has already been paused since August 2022;
  • Routine symptomatic testing of staff and residents in care settings will end. Routine symptomatic testing will also end in other settings including prisons and places of detention, homelessness and refuge settings and asylum settings;
  • All PCR testing outside NHS settings will end.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Testing was crucial to our response during the height of the pandemic.

“Our successful vaccination programme has protected the most vulnerable, saved thousands of lives, and has helped us all to live with Covid.

“Thankfully we are now able to scale back our testing programme while remaining committed to ensuring those at highest risk get the protection they need.”

It comes after Britain’s final official estimates last week showed infections have reached their highest level since the start of January.

More than 1.7million people had the virus on any given day in the week up to March 7, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed.

But jabs are still protecting millions of Brits against severe illness, after a mammoth rollout.

The Sun encouraged Brits to get both flu and Covid vaccines this winter with the ‘Do the Double’ campaign, in order to keep them safe from both illnesses.