UK: Testing requirements rolled back amid Omicron surge
By Hamed Chapman
London (The Muslim News): The British Government has rolled back Covid-19 testing requirements amid huge surge of the dominant Omicron variant with record numbers of new cases exceeding over 200,000 a day.
In an update to Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also announced that limited Plan B rules will continue “for another three weeks with a further review before the regulations expire on 26 January,”
“We’re experiencing the fastest growth in Covid cases we’ve ever known,” Johnson said, citing a record of 218,724 daily cases confirmed on Tuesday and new figures showing a record one in 15 people had Covid on New Year’s Eve..
New guidelines were also issued to ease Covid-19 testing rules by suspending the need for people recording a positive Lateral Flow Test (LFT) to have it confirmed with a PCR from Jan 12.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA argued that the “tried-and-tested approach means that LFTs can be used confidently to indicate Covid-19 infection without the need for PCR confirmation” while cases of Covid continue to rise.
The change is said to be only a temporary measure that will be reviewed when coronavirus levels in the population drop below 1%. According to the Office for National Statistics, around 4% of people are currently infected with coronavirus.
A separate announcement was also made by the Government that doubly vaccinated passengers will no longer have to take pre-departure Covid tests in England from 04:00 GMT on Friday. Those returning will also not be required to self-isolate while awaiting test results after arriving back in England.
“As we learn more about the Omicron variant it is right that we keep our testing and border measures under review to ensure they remain proportionate. The steps we’re taking will make travel easier for people while protecting the UK public from the virus, Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said.
“Omicron continues to be a serious threat and it is important that travellers continue to get tested. The most important thing anyone can do if they haven’t already is come forward for their vaccine,” Javid added.
Eligible fully vaccinated travellers and over 5s will be able to take a Lateral Flow Test instead of a PCR on or before day 2 of their arrival in England and can be booked from Friday.
[Photo: PM Boris Johnson speaking at PMQs in Parliament on 6 Jan 2022. Photo: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor]
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