Hampshire County Council vows to monitor Covid-19 outbreaks as free testing set to end
HAMPSHIRE County Council is reminding residents free Covid-19 testing ends next week while vowing to continue monitoring outbreaks.
Both free PCR tests for people with symptoms and lateral flow tests for those without will stop as part of the government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan.
On Wednesday 30th March, symptomatic testing sites will shut and mobile testing units will stop, with targeted asymptomatic community testing ending the following day.
Then on Friday 1st April, the government will no longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for England’s general public.
People will be able to purchase LFDs from pharmacies.
The UK’s successful vaccination programme was largely credited with making the government plan possible. This was said to have put the country in a strong position to now treat Coronavirus like other respiratory diseases.
HCC leader and chair of the local outbreak engagement board, Cllr Keith Mans, said testing had “played a vital role in tackling Covid-19”.
Over 650,000 individual LFDs were distributed through Hampshire’s targeted community testing programme, and more than 116,000 supervised LFD tests conducted at asymptomatic testing sites.
But Cllr Mans said: “While we are changing the way we manage Covid, the virus is still circulating and I want to reassure residents that our Public Health team, working closely with UK Health Security Agency, the NHS and other partner organisations, will continue to monitor outbreaks, and should things change, we will take appropriate actions as required to limit any future impact the virus could have on our county.”
Limited free symptomatic testing will continue for a small number of at-risk groups and for social care staff.
Guidance on testing arrangements for visitors to care homes is provided on the gov.uk webpages. Visitors are advised to discuss arrangements with care staff in advance.
Cllr Mans added: “As we learn to live with Covid-19, it’s important we continue to do all that we can to protect our families and communities – particularly those at the greatest risk of severe illness.
“I encourage residents to keep following the public health advice because every action helps keep us all safe.”
People are still urged to get vaccinated, wear a face covering in crowded or enclosed places, let in fresh air when meeting others indoors, wash hands frequently for 20 seconds, and stay at home if unwell.
For more information see the FAQs on the Keep Hampshire Safe website at https://bit.ly/3wzCW23