• Thursday, December 01, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

UK to continue free Covid tests for healthcare workers, vulnerable

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (2ndR) walks with corporal Lorna MacDonald during a visit to a vaccination centre in Northampton on January 6, 2022. (Photo by PETER CZIBORRA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

BRITAIN said that healthcare workers, social care staff and the most vulnerable will still get Covid-19 tests without any charge when it ends free testing for the general public next month.

When he announced all coronavirus restrictions would be scrapped in February, prime minister Boris Johnson said free tests would end on April 1, saying the country could not afford their cost.

Health minister Sajid Javid said people at risk of serious illness from Covid-19 would continue to get free tests if they developed symptoms, along with the NHS staff, those working in social care and those in other high-risk jobs.

Covid cases and hospitalisations have risen in recent weeks, but the government said more than 55 per cent who tested positive in hospital for the virus had been admitted for other ailments. Meanwhile, booster vaccine shots are being rolled out for older and immunosuppressed people.

Sajid Javid : England to roll out fourth Covid shot: NHS
Britain’s health secretary Sajid Javid. (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

Under the guidance from April 1, people who develop symptoms such as a high temperature or other respiratory infections will be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they feel better and no longer have a fever.

Those who test positive for Covid will be advised to stay at home for five days and avoid any contact with other people for five days.

We have made enormous progress but will keep the ability to respond to future threats including potential variants,” Sajid Javid said.

Meanwhile, official figures last week revealed that Coronavirus levels reached all-time highs in Scotland and Wales and are nearing record levels in England, with around 4.2 million people infected across the UK.

The steep rise in infections is due to Omicron BA.2, a more transmissible variant of Omicron, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Around 4.26 million people were believed to have been infected across the whole UK last week, just shy of the 4.3 million record set in the first week of 2022.

Britain has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, recording 164,454 deaths.

(Agencies)

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