Wales is extending its access to free lateral flow device (LFD) tests until the end of July due to rising cases of Covid across the country. Health minister Eluned Morgan has confirmed that free tests will remain available in Wales until July 31.
The tests will be available to the public that are showing symptoms of coronavirus – such as a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – alongside free access for people visiting someone eligible for new Covid-19 treatments.
The announcement comes following a rise in cases with the most recent Office for National Statistics survey reporting an increase in cases across the UK. An estimated one in 45 people in Wales currently has Covid-19. The emergence of the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are also contributing to this increase as they become more dominant across the UK.
The health minister has also announced the following testing will continue to be in place:
- LFD and PCR testing for those eligible for Covid-19 treatments;
- PCR testing for Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses for symptomatic care home residents and prisoners;
- PCR and LFD testing under the patient-testing framework and when clinically advised including pre-operative hospital patients and care home residents returning from inpatient hospital stays;
- LFD testing for symptomatic health and social care staff, and;
- Twice-weekly LFD tests for asymptomatic testing for health and social care staff.
The Welsh Government added that those visiting people in care homes should continue to test using tests provided by the care home they are visiting. Self-isolation payments of £500 will end on June 30 while the Covid-19 statutory sick pay Enhancement scheme will be extended until August 31 to support social care staff to stay away from work due to testing positive.
Mrs Morgan said: “Testing has been an effective tool in breaking the chain of transmission and with an increase in cases it’s vital that we keep testing in place to protect the most vulnerable in our society. As we have seen before Covid can quickly change. I am announcing this extension in response to the changing picture and new variants of concern.
“I would also ask people to take protective measures to protect the more vulnerable in the community, wear masks in health and care settings, stay at home if you test positive, and take up the offer for the vaccine. We know that the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself.
“Covid has not gone away. Whilst we are learning to live safely with it we will continue to monitor the situation and as we have done for the last two years we will work together to keep Wales safe.”