Mayors, teaching unions and health chiefs say decision will speed up spread of virus and deepen health inequalities
Photograph: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans/Rex/ShutterstockPeople will have to pay for lateral flow tests from next year under plans unveiled by the goverment.Photograph: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans/Rex/ShutterstockFri 17 Sep 2021 14.39 BSTLast modified on Fri 17 Sep 2021 14.55 BST
England’s coronavirus testing strategy has been been criticised as “reckless” amid plans to end the free provision of rapid tests and relax the monitoring of cases from abroad.Families and businesses will have to pay for lateral flow tests from next year in an overhaul of Downing Street’s approach to the pandemic.
More than 95m of the 30-minute tests have been used since they were made freely available in England from April. Reported to cost£5-£30 each, they have identified more than 620,000 cases, mostly in people without symptoms but who could still transmit the virus. headtopics.com
Mayors, teaching unions and directors of public health said charging for lateral flow tests was a “backward step” that threatened to throw schools back into chaos, accelerate the spread of the virus and deepen health inequalities.Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The best way to minimise disruption to children’s education is to keep the number of Covid cases in school as low as possible. Testing is critical to this. Removing free access to Covid tests while cases are still high would be reckless. Nor can schools bear the cost of paying for tests for all their pupils and families.”
Anyone without symptoms canorder the tests onlinealthough they are used primarily in schools, care homes and the NHS. They have detected nearly 173,000 positive cases in nurseries, schools and colleges and more than 35,000 cases in care homes since January, according to a Guardian analysis.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said making lateral flow tests paid-for was a backward step, adding: “Charging for lateral flow testing in our view could only lead to the increased spread of the virus and deepening those inequalities that we’ve seen all the way through this pandemic.”Read more: The Guardian »
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