Northern Ireland news

People with Covid symptoms no longer advised to take lateral flow tests

Free lateral flow tests will no longer be available from Monday
Rebecca Black, PA

Those with Covid-19 symptoms will no longer be advised to take a lateral flow test from Monday.

Free lateral flow tests will no longer be available for that purpose from the same date.

The Department of Health said the move is in line with the Test, Trace and Protect Transition plan published in March, which aims to make testing more proportionate and targeted to protect the most vulnerable.

People who are eligible for new Covid-19 treatments and those working in health and social care settings will continue to be advised to test.

They will continue to have access to free lateral flow tests.

Joanne McClean, associate deputy chief medical officer, said levels of Covid infection in the community are falling, and the overall impact from serious illness is low.

“We have always said we would keep Covid-19 measures under review, taking account of the trajectory of the virus,” Dr McClean said.

“While Covid-19 is still in circulation, levels of infection in the community are falling and the overall impact from serious illness remains low at this time.

“Currently, the most common symptoms of Covid-19 are similar to other respiratory viruses such as flu. It is therefore appropriate that testing is no longer one of the main tools in the fight against the virus for the majority of people.”

The most recent information from the Office for National Statistics suggests that in the week to August 8, one in 50 people in Northern Ireland had Covid-19.

Dr McClean said: “This has fallen since the peak early in the summer. As we move into the autumn we may see infection rates rise again.

“We will monitor the situation closely and take proportionate action at that time if required.

“The advice for adults who test positive remains the same – stay home and avoid contact with others for five days from the date of the positive test.

“As children tend to be less infectious than adults, the isolation period for children is three days.”

Northern Ireland news