Suspension of confirmatory PCR tests
From Tuesday 11 January, until further notice there will no longer be a need for a confirmatory PCR test following a positive LFD test. There are no changes to the self-isolation guidance for those that are vaccinated and those that are not.
With COVID-19 rates so high, the risk of a positive LFD result being false is very small and there is very limited value in confirmatory testing. This change will also help ensure PCR tests are available for those who need them most including critical workers who run essential services.
This is a temporary measure to reflect the current very high levels of prevalence and will be regularly reviewed.
The press release with further information on this change can be found here.
Testing of critical workers
The Prime Minister has announced the government will provide 100,000 critical workers in England with free lateral flow tests to help keep essential services and supply chains running.
These workers will be able to take a test on every working day and the provision of precautionary testing will be for an initial five weeks. This will help to isolate asymptomatic cases and limit the risk of outbreaks in workplaces, reducing transmission while covid cases remain high.
These critical workers are those who work in essential services, cannot work from home and are at risk of infecting each other, for example, due to working together in an enclosed space.
People covered by the scheme will include those who work in critical national infrastructure, national security, transport, and food distribution and processing. This includes vital roles in Border Force, Police and Fire and Rescue Services control rooms, electricity generation, test kit warehouses and test surge labs.
Tests will be separate from those already allocated to the public sector, who already have a testing allocation with UKHSA, such as adult social care or education, and separate to those delivered to pharmacies and homes, so those channels will not be impacted by the new scheme.
The full range of critical workers has been identified by the relevant government departments who will contact these organisations directly on the logistics of the scheme this week. Roll out will start from Monday 10th January.