Free Covid testing comes to an end

Most people will now have to pay for PCR or lateral flow testing, just as cases are increasing.
Photo of lateral flow test by Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Most Reading people will now have to pay for PCR or lateral flow testing to check if they have Covid as the government’s free testing scheme has ended as of 1 April 2022.

Reading Borough Council confirmed that Reading’s walk-through PCR testing sites closed on Wednesday 30th March, a day after its lateral flow testing site at Reading Town Hall ended.

The end of the government scheme comes as the Royal Berkshire Hospital warned on 29 March that rising Covid patients meant it was again restricting visitors to one per patient, and only to people who are negative on a lateral flow test before coming. The hospital also urged people attending A&E to do so on their own if they could.

Covid testing from 1 April

  • Free lateral flow tests (to check you have Covid with no symptoms) and free PCR testing (if you have Covid symptoms) will end for the general public
  • A small number of at-risk people will still get free tests (those eligible for Covid antivirals and other treatments, who'll be sent a pack & can order replacements)
  • NHS staff and social care staff will still access free testing
  • Shops and pharmacies will sell lateral flow tests to the public
  • The government has also published a list of approved paid-for PCR test providers here; if you use them, you’ll be able to register results on the government website

Full details on who is still eligible for free Covid tests is here on the gov.uk website.

According to figures from Berkshire Public Health, Reading had 1,221 new Covid cases in the week 11–17 March, a rate increase of 34% on the previous week.

Covid rates are highest in Reading the 30-34 age group, followed by 45-49-year-olds and 25-29-year-olds; rates are also starting to rise again for people aged 60 and over.

One Reading person had sadly passed away with Covid in the week ending 11 March.

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