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COVID-19 testing to change from next month

Testing will continue to focus on those at the highest risk

Changes to COVID-19 testing will come into effect from next month.

The changes come over a year after the nation began the transition to living with the virus.

Testing will continue to focus on those at highest risk, enable appropriate clinical treatment and supports the management of outbreaks in high-risk settings including health and social care.

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Routine asymptomatic testing routine asymptomatic testing, including testing on admission, for staff and patients across all health and social care settings including hospitals and care homes will end.

As well as, routine symptomatic testing of staff and residents in care settings, prisons and places of detention, homelessness and refuge settings and asylum settings.

All PCR testing outside NHS settings will also end.

Dame Jenny Harries, Chief executive of UKHSA said: ‘Fewer people now experience severe illness due to COVID-19, due to vaccinations, infection-related immunity and treatments for those who need them and the risk of hospitalisation has decreased overall.

‘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 to protect them from the virus.’

Testing will continue using LFD tests for people in the community and residents in care or high-risk settings if they present symptoms and are eligible for COVID-19 treatment.

Some NHS staff with symptoms working on inpatients wards with severely immunosuppressed patients as well as staff working in hospices will also use LFD tests.

PCR testing will continue to be used by the NHS for diagnosis where needed for patients before accessing COVID-19 treatment or for specific personal clinically directed care.

Health and social care secretary, Steve Barclay said: ‘Thankfully we are now able to scale back our testing programme while remaining committed to ensuring those at highest risk and more prone to severe illness get the protection they need.’