Britain’s New Plan to Covid Control
London, Apr 5 (FN Bureau) People in England will be offered rapid COVID-19 tests twice a week from April 9, as part of the UK government’s plan to stop the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and reopen business and society, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday. “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,” Johnson said as quoted in a statement released by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Although the prime minister and his health advisers are expected to give more details about the rollout of the lateral flow test at a press conference on Monday afternoon, the statement said that from April 9, rapid test kits will be available through community testing, local pharmacies participating on the testing program, or they could be collected directly from the test site during specific time windows or ordered online. Rapid testing has so far been available to those most at risk and people who need to leave home for work, including frontline health workers, care home staff and residents, and schoolchildren and their families. Anyone who tests positive using a lateral flow test will be expected to self-isolate along with their household. They can then order a second PCR COVID-19 test, typically used for symptomatic cases, which will be sent off to a laboratory for analysis, the government explained.
In case the confirmatory test comes back negative, their quarantine period is considered over immediately and they can resume normal life. At Monday’s press briefing, Johnson is also expected to outline plans for the so-called “vaccine passport” or COVID-status certificates recording whether holders have been vaccinated, had a recent negative test or developed natural immunity to the virus. According to UK media, Johnson will also confirm that the UK is preparing to allow holiday travel abroad by introducing a “traffic light” system where travel destinations will be split into “green light”, “amber light” and “red light” zones. The categories will be afforded based on each country’s vaccination progress and COVID-19 infection rates.