Lateral Flow Tests: Can you still order free lateral flow tests online, when does free testing end, will lateral flow tests continue to be free in Portsmouth and what are the new isolation rules?

FREE lateral flow tests are being scrapped by the government as part of the new Covid-19 strategy for England.

Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 11:21 am

Since Boris Johnson announced the end of free testing in England last month, there has been a shortage of testing kits available on the NHS website.

The shortage comes as Covid-19 cases rise once again across the country, with 2,312 confirmed positive cases alone in Portsmouth between March 15 and March 21, 2022.

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Lateral flow tests will no longer be free in England from April 1.

But when does free testing end and will lateral flow tests remain free in Portsmouth?

Here's everything you need to know:

Can you still order lateral flow tests online?

According to the NHS website, there are no more home delivery slots available for the Portsmouth area at this time.

The website states: 'Sorry, there are no more home delivery slots for these tests right now.

‘The 119 service does not have access to more home delivery slots right now.

‘You cannot order tests from NHS 111 or 999. Try again later.'

If you are concerned about your symptoms, contact 111 (England and Scotland only) or speak to your GP. In an emergency, dial 999.

Can I still get a pack of lateral flow tests from the pharmacy?

You may be able to pick up tests from a pharmacy near you.

Pharmacies may have limited stock, and tests may not be available at your preferred pharmacy.

This service will end on March 31, 2022.

When does free testing end in England?

Free testing in England ends on April 1, 2022.

Up until April 1, both lateral flow and PCR tests (for those eligible to order them) have been provided for free by the NHS.

Twice-weekly testing for students and staff in education and childcare has already ended.

Businesses will have to pay for their own testing regime if they want to continue staff testing.

Who will still be eligible for free tests?

Hospital patients, care home residents and other vulnerable groups will be entitled to free tests if they have Covid-19 symptoms.

However, from April 1, the general population will be unable to access free lateral flow tests.

How much will tests cost?

Initially, government sources stated that those who need lateral flow tests to confirm Covid-19 symptoms would need to pay between £2 and £5 for an individual test.

Boots will offer the individual tests for £2.50 each or £12 for a pack of five.

They will also offer a pack of four tests for £17 with the option to send your results to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

For those who need to visit loved ones in care homes, this could cost up to £73 a month, according to the head of public affairs and campaigns at the Alzheimer's Society.

James White told inews: ‘With infection rates rising once again, the government must provide free lateral flow tests for all visitors to care homes so that families are not put in an agonising position where they are forced to ration visits, leaving people with dementia once again isolated and alone.’

Will tests remain free in Portsmouth?

Portsmouth residents could still have access to free testing beyond April 1 under a new scheme.

Portsmouth City Council has drawn up plans to provide free testing kits when the government scheme ends next month.

The scheme, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the county, is set to be discussed in the council’s cabinet meeting today.

If the scheme gets the go-ahead, every Portsmouth household will be able to collect five free lateral flow tests a month until the end of June 2022.

Collection points would be set up at libraries and community centres and would be monitored through an online database.

What are the new isolation rules?

According to the NHS website, those with Covid-19 are no longer required by law to self-isolate.

Individuals with the virus should still stay at home and avoid contact with other people to reduce the risk of passing Covid-19 onto others.

If you have Covid-19, you should stay at home while you are infectious to others.

This could be for up to 10 days from when your symptoms started but many will no longer be infectious to others after five days.

If you are infected, you can do a rapid lateral flow test from five days after symptoms began and another the next day.

If both tests are negative and you no longer have a high temperature, you may go back to your normal routine.

If the result is positive on day five, you can carry on doing rapid tests until you get two negative tests in a row.

Self-isolation rules will change again on April 1 as free testing comes to an end.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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