Full list of all Brits who will still get free Covid tests after major change TODAY

THE list of Brits who can still get free Covid tests from today has been revealed.

Vulnerable people, including those in high-risk jobs and with health conditions, will be eligible to pick up swabs without paying.

Everyone else in England now has to pay around £2 to check if they have the virus.

The Government says the Test & Trace programme, including free testing, cost £15.7 billion in 2021/22. 

But now, population immunity against Covid has never been higher, and the Omicron variant is less severe.

This allows for the bug to be treated like any other, ministers say.

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Covid isolation rules have now changed, too. From today confirmed cases are advised to stay at home for five days, when they are most infectious.

Those needing to leave home will be told to avoid close contact with vulnerable people, wear a face mask and avoid crowded spaces, such as rush hour trains.

Guidance states Brits with Covid symptoms, including a cough or fever, should remain indoors until they feel better.

Parents are being told to keep their child at home, and out of contact with other people, until they are no longer unwell and do not have a high temperature.

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Testing times

In England, from today people will no longer be able to get a free PCR test on the NHS unless they are considered high risk.

And lateral flow tests, which have been the staple of home testing, will no longer be free unless you are in a certain risk group.

The full list includes hospital patients, NHS and prison staff, adult social care workers, and people who are extremely vulnerable, such as the immunosuppressed.

But most visitors to adult social care settings, to the NHS, prisons or places of detention will no longer be required to take a test.

The rest of the UK is set to follow at a later date, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continuing with some free testing for longer.

Tests have proved a quick way to know if you could infect others and will still be available, but just not for free.

Who will continue to get free tests?

Free symptomatic testing will continue for:

  • Hospital patients, where a PCR test is required for their care
  • People at risk of severe Covid who are eligible for community Covid-19 treatments. This includes people with certain types of cancer, Down's syndrome, sickle cell disease, or who had an organ transplant. People in this group will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms as well as being told how to reorder tests.
  • People living or working in some high-risk settings. This includes some care home and hospice staff and residents, NHS workers and prison staff. People will also be tested before being discharged from hospital into care homes, hospices, homelessness settings and domestic abuse refuges.

Free asymptomatic lateral flow testing will continue for:

  • Some NHS and social care staff when there are high rates of infection in the community.
  • Staff in some prisons and places of detention and in high risk domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings.
  • Some care home staff and residents during an outbreak and for care home residents upon admission.

Instead Brits will need to go to high street stores selling one swab for around £1.99, or a pack of seven for about £20.

Health Secretary 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.”    

Omicron is a milder strain of Covid, especially in the vaccinated.

Health chiefs have repeatedly said making sure you are up to date with boosters is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Mr Javid added: "If I tested positive I wouldn't go into work. We're relying much more on people's personal responsibility, their own common sense.

"As we learn to live with Covid as we've learned to live with other viruses like the flu, people should take a common sense approach."

It is the last stage in the roadmap out of the pandemic, with the Government urging common sense as we live with the bug.

However, plans are in place to enable rapid testing response should a concerning new variant of Covid emerge.

Cases have risen in recent weeks after all restrictions were scrapped, but the Health Secretary said this was not a surprise or a concern at the moment.

Mr Javid this week said regular screening of NHS and care staff for Covid will be scrapped once the current spike in infections ends.

Twice weekly checks will only remain during “higher prevalence” of the virus.

The Government also announced that free parking introduced for hospital staff during the height of the pandemic will end on Friday.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “Free testing is a key tool for measuring prevalence of Covid-19 among the public, as well as limiting the spread of infection, and we believe this should continue.

"It is particularly important to make lateral flow tests freely available for those who come into contact with people who are at highest risk from Covid-19, including the clinically vulnerable, to protect them from infection.

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“Healthcare settings should be places where people feel confident that they are not at risk of infection from Covid-19. Free, routine, testing of healthcare staff will be vital to ensure we protect patients and workers as much as possible."

Immunologist and founder of Cignpost Diagnostics Professor Denis Kinane added: “Recent stories about shortages of Lateral Flow Tests shows demonstrate that large numbers of people still want to get tested to reassure themselves or protect their families.”

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