Here is what the latest guidance will be for staying at home when free Covid-19 testing for most ends this week

Free Covid-19 testing is ending for most people from Friday.

By sarah fitton
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 10:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 10:30 am

Tests will only be available for free for those deemed at serious illness from the virus, people who live and work in "high-risk settings" and some hospital patients.

The move is being made despite rising Covid-19 cases.

The Government says free testing for all "has come at a significant cost to the taxpayer" and, thanks to measures including vaccines, the country can now manage the virus like other respiratory infections.

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From Friday (April 1), updated guidance will advise people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including Covid-19, and a high temperature or who feel unwell, to try stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature.

Anyone with a positive Covid-19 test result will be advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, when they are most infectious.

Advice will be provided for individuals who need to leave their home when they have symptoms or have tested positive, including avoiding close contact with people with a weakened immune system, wearing a face-covering and avoiding crowded places.

The Government says children who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature and they are well enough to attend.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our plan to tackle Covid, we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus. We have made enormous progress but will keep the ability to respond to future threats including potential variants.

Vaccines remain our best defence and we are now offering spring boosters to the elderly, care home residents and the most vulnerable – please come forward to protect yourself, your family, and your community.”

Free symptomatic testing (PCR tests) will only be provided for patients in hospital where a PCR test is required for their care, people who are eligible for community Covid-19 treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from the virus, and people living or working in some high-risk settings, such as care homes and healthcare services.

Asymptomatic lateral flow testing will continue from April in some high-risk settings where infection can spread rapidly while prevalence is high, including NHS services.

The Government says it has retained the ability to enable a rapid testing response should it be needed, such as a new variant of concern.

This includes a stockpile of lateral flow tests and the ability to ramp up testing laboratories and delivery channels.

Dame Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “As we learn to live with Covid, we are focusing our testing provision on those at higher risk of serious outcomes from the virus, while encouraging people to keep following simple steps to help keep themselves and others safe.

“The pandemic is not over and how the virus will develop over time remains uncertain. Covid still poses a real risk to many of us, particularly with case rates and hospitalisations on the rise. That is why it is sensible to wear a mask in enclosed spaces, keep indoor spaces ventilated and stay away from others if you have any symptoms of a respiratory illness, including Covid.

“Vaccination remains the best way to protect us all from severe disease and hospitalisation due to Covid infection. If you have not yet come forward for your primary or booster I would urge you to do so straight away – the NHS vaccine programme is there to help you and the sooner you are vaccinated the sooner you and your family and friends will be protected.”