Boris Johnson will announce tonight (Monday 05.04.21) at his televised press conference a multi-billion-pound scheme for two free Covid-19 tests per week for everyone in England. The Government says the offer is currently for England only. The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have to make their own decisions. These rapid, twice-weekly Covid tests will be home delivered. Alternatively, anyone over the age of 18 will be able to collect boxes of seven tests from their local pharmacy.
These fast-turnaround tests, which produce results in just half an hour, do not require lab analysis and will be available for use at home. The Prime Minister will say that the huge testing programme is needed to ensure that the sacrifices made in recent months ‘are not wasted’. Health Secretary Matt Hancock will reinforce that it is vital that people take up the testing offer to enable the country to reclaim our lost freedoms.
Under this new initiative, which will be introduced on Friday, people will be able to request packs of test kits for home use. These will then be delivered. The Prime Minister hopes that this rollout will help stop Covid-19 outbreaks ‘in their tracks’. It will be supported by a major new advertising campaign which will be launched this week encouraging everyone in England to take up the tests.
The new drive will use lateral flow tests which provide results minutes, comparable with pregnancy tests. Users have to take a swab from their throat then nose with the results displayed on the indicator in half an hour, without the need for laboratory analysis. NHS and care home staff, along with millions of school children, are already using these fast-turnaround tests twice a week.
People who test positive will be asked to self-isolate in the normal way, as well as providing details of their contacts to the Test and Trace service.
With tests thought to cost at least £5 each, take-up of 25million would generate a huge bill of more than £1billion a month.