We've pledged to provide free COVID-19 LFD tests to some of the most vulnerable groups of people for a limited period.

The government last month announced we were moving into a new phase as we start to learn how to live safely with the virus.

A significant change in the guidance is that from 1 April, free testing will no longer be universally available.

There are indications that some groups will be prioritised for free tests. These look likely to include health and social care staff and may include a small number of at-risk groups.

However, we recognise that there are many groups who are at a higher risk of infection, either through their occupation, or through clinical vulnerability.

It’s not yet clear if these groups will have access to free testing and some of them may not easily be able to afford to buy their own tests so we want to help them.

Councillor Jackie Stockman, Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health, said: “Since the pandemic began, we’ve gained an understanding of which settings are more at risk of outbreaks, and which need to be protected because they have vulnerable clients or visitors. 

“We will continue to make free LFD testing available to some of these key groups, on a targeted basis, for a transitional period. This will be at the discretion of the Director of Public Health.

“While national policy is developing in relation to the health and care sector, one example of a particular group that we may need to support are people visiting friends and family members in care homes, or those caring for or visiting vulnerable relations in their own homes. 

“Another group is our volunteer workforce. Volunteers have provided lots of practical support to people in the community throughout the pandemic, often visiting vulnerable members of the community in their own homes. Many may not have access to free testing from April, and we would also wish to support some of these.”

COVID-19 remains with us and infection rates have been on the rise in the last few weeks.

Just over 1,000 people in 100,000 tested positive in the last few days compared with just over 600/100,000 last month.

The advice remains:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Let fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meet outside if possible
  • Wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces
  • Stay at home if you’re unwell
  • Take a test if you have symptoms, and stay at home if you test positive
  • Wash your hands regularly

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