COVID-19: Routine asymptomatic testing among NHS and care home workers to be 'paused' from end of this month
Asymptomatic testing will remain for people being admitted to hospices and for those going into care homes and for immunocompromised patients who are being admitted to hospital, said the Department of Health and Social Care.
Wednesday 24 August 2022 18:13, UK
Routine COVID testing among NHS and care home workers in England who do not have symptoms, along with some patients, will be "paused" from 31 August as case rates and hospitalisations fall.
But asymptomatic testing will remain for people being admitted to hospices and for those going into care homes and for immunocompromised patients who are being admitted to hospital, said the Department of Health and Social Care.
And testing for people with symptoms will continue in some NHS, social care and prison system settings.
These will include NHS staff with symptoms; patients who need a diagnosis so they can access COVID-19 treatments; care home and hospice staff; social care staff; hospice and care home residents; prison staff and detainees, and staff and service users of certain domestic abuse refuges and homelessness services.
The Department of Health and Social Care said that in the last seven days, COVID-related deaths have fallen to 744 and hospitalisations to 6,005, "meaning wider asymptomatic testing can soon end as planned in most instances".
Earlier this year, regular asymptomatic testing for the general population stopped and tests were no longer free to access for the general public from 1 April.
But health and social care leaders called for testing among NHS and care staff to continue amid high case numbers.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said on Wednesday: "Thanks to the success of our world-leading vaccination roll-out, we are able to continue living with COVID and, from 31 August, we will pause routine asymptomatic testing in most high-risk settings.
"This reflects the fact case rates have fallen and the risk of transmission has reduced, though we will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with sectors to resume testing should it be needed."
He also said the government's upcoming autumn booster programme will offer jabs to protect those at greatest risk from severe COVID, and he urged "everyone who is eligible to take up the offer".
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, said: "COVID case rates and hospitalisations are on the decline, demonstrating the positive impact of the vaccines, which remain our best form of defence.
"The data from our surveillance shows prevalence is low and decreasing, and we will continue to monitor this data closely.
"If you are invited to receive a booster jab in the autumn, or if you have not yet had a COVID vaccine, please do take up the offer to protect yourself and those around you."