The prime minister is reportedly set to end free PCR tests within weeks as part of his new “living with Covid” plan that would also see the Treasury save billions with £100 fees
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Boris Johnson will end free PCR tests “within weeks” and is drawing up plans to make the public pay £100 to find out if they have Covid, it is reported.
Part of the new approach of living with Covid, the new costs will come in as the Treasury pushes to save billions of pounds by scrapping free testing.
Vulnerable people and those in hospital will continue to get the test for free.
The government is looking at different options about a new system this week before making a final call, say reports.
The Prime Minister is believed to be keen to get rid of all Covid restrictions including the need to self-isolate by the end of February.
And a government insider told The Sun that PCR tests are expensive while lateral flow tests are now widely available and can cover the need.
Other plans could see the easing back of the Office for National Statistics Covid monitoring program which sees sampling of the population each week to see how widespread the virus is.
With the rollout of vaccines and booster jabs the UK has seen the outlook brighten and overall cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been down compared to last week.
Ending the free PCR tests could appeal to Rishi Sunak’s department with billions having been spent to ensure that the public can find out for free if they have Covid and so slow the spread of the virus.
There is concern though among scientists that it may be too soon to ask people to pay for their own PCR tests which can be expensive.
The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) wants the Government to keep providing free tests until at least the start of April.
But another Guardian source also said that the Government was going ahead with plans to avoid free PCR tests and would close walk-in testing centers with only home delivery options available.
Johnson has revealed he plans to end self-isolation for people who test positive for Covid “a full month earlier” than planned, and will confirm the exact date in a statement to MPs on Monday February 21.
The Prime Minister said: “It is my intention to return on the first day after the half term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid.
“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we’ll be able to end the last domestic restrictions, including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive, a full month early.”
No 10 said it was a major step and faster than other European countries, but added: “We’re not saying isolation is pointless.
“We’d expect anyone with an infectious disease to take steps not to spread that disease further – a colleague at work with flu, for example.”