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Free Covid tests could end within months


Free coronavirus testing could come to an end next spring under new Government plans to curb the national debt.

The UK Health and Security Agency is set to halt its £37 billion coronavirus response from April 2022 if cases continue to fall across the country.

The plans have not yet been passed to officials but it is understood that there are discussions in government about ending free lateral flow tests for all – restricting them for people in high-risk places such as schools and hospitals

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Ministers believe that the UK Government’s coronavirus response is ‘unsustainable’ given the level of debt built up – but that winter is not the time to ‘scale back’.

A government source told The Times : “Just look at what’s happening in Europe. But we may be in a different position in the spring of next year.



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“The current coronavirus response does have to end, it’s ultimately not sustainable, but it’s definitely not going to happen over winter. That would be reckless.”

It comes as one in 60 English residents caught Covid in the week to November 6 – a steady decrease from the previous week.

Office for National Statistics figures show that an estimated 925,400 people in England had coronavirus that week, dropping from 1,103,300 a week earlier.

Cases are rising again, thought, with 36,516 new cases being reported yesterday (November 14) – a rise of more than 6,000 from the previous Sunday.

Other European countries including Italy and Germany have also seen as sharp rise in Covid infection rates, while The Netherlands has reimposed lockdown measures after Covid infections spiked.



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Epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson told the BBC that he was ‘optimistic’ ahead of winter – and that the UK is unlikely to experience a ‘catastrophic winter wave’ like last year.

He believes that transmission could be driven to low levels in the UK by rolling out booster vaccinations to younger people once older and more vulnerable groups have received them.

He added that data from Israel showed that people were “very substantially protected” after receiving booster doses.

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