Rapid Covid-19 tests to be offered to everyone twice weekly
- Credit: PA
Everyone is to be given access to a free and rapid coronavirus test twice a week from next Friday, the Government has announced.
The lateral flow tests - which can provide results in around 30 minutes - will be available to anyone, regardless of whether they are showing Covid-19 symptoms.
Rapid testing has so far been available to those most at risk and people who need to leave home for work, including frontline NHS workers.
The wider rollout aims to help identify and control new coronavirus variants, and comes as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased across the UK.
It comes as Covid rates in Norfolk have risen slightly in the latest figures, though they have dropped for people in the age groups which have so far been included in the vaccine roll-out.
People will be able to obtain a test through a home ordering service, workplace or school testing programme, or by collecting one at a local test site.
A new "pharmacy collect" service is also being launched, which will provide an additional route to regular testing.
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Those aged over 18 without symptoms will be able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of seven rapid tests to use twice a week at home.
The NHS Covid-19 app is also due to be updated from April 8, with everyone in a group now required to check-in when entering a hospitality venue, rather than just one person.
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The app will also require users who test positive to share their venue history in a "privacy-protecting way" via the program, the Government said.
Those who have been at a venue on the same day as several others who have since tested positive for Covid will receive an alert advising them to book a test immediately, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Around one in three people who have Covid-19 show no symptoms, and as we reopen society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.”
More than 120,000 positive cases have already been identified through the use of lateral flow testing.