UK Government set to relax Covid testing rules and scrap need for PCR
People in England who test positive on a lateral flow test will no longer need a confirmatory PCR to begin the self-isolation period if they do not have symptoms.
The plans are designed to allow them to return to work earlier and aim to combat staff shortages in key areas.
It is expected to be confirmed on Wednesday as the Prime Minister seeks to convince his Cabinet to stick by the Plan B measures despite admitting parts of the health service will feel “temporarily overwhelmed”.
Health minister Gillian Keegan told the BBC there was no “official news or updates” on the change, but as lateral flow tests are deemed accurate the Government was “looking at what makes sense, we don’t need to do things that are unnecessary”.
Ms Keegan acknowledged the pressure on hospitals, saying: “Right now, they are under extreme pressure with the Omicron variant, with the number of positive cases and the increase in hospitalisations, and at this point in time when they always have extreme pressure.”
A Government source said the change was being discussed, but details were “still being finalised”.
Currently those without symptoms who test positive on a lateral flow are asked to order a PCR test and only begin their isolation period when they receive the second result, effectively forcing them to isolate for longer than seven days.
The First Minister will give an update to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday and John Swinney had hinted there could be a change to the rules.
Speaking yesterday, the Deputy First Minister said: "We're actively considering the issue of reducing the self isolation period.
"The First Minister confirmed that to Parliament in the virtual session on the 29th of December, and further details will be shared with Parliament in its virtual session tomorrow.
"So yes, that issue is under consideration.”
Scotland is the only country in the United Kingdom that asks people to isolate for ten days.
The Scottish Tories have called for changes to the rules, with leader Douglas Ross saying it should be cut to to seven days, if two negative tests are returned in the final two days
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