COMMENT: Scheme to supply free tests is to be welcomed

Home Covid testing quickly became a way of life for all of us during the pandemic.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 17th March 2022, 12:00 am

We got into the routine of regularly using the lateral flow devices to check if we were safe to go out, or had the virus and needed to self-isolate to avoid spreading it to others.

It was the responsible thing to do and free swabs made it easy to keep to the testing regime.

But it saw the UK spend in the region of £6bn on lateral flow tests - a cost which was a major factor in the government deciding that, under its 'Living with Covid' plan, they would no longer be provided free.

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The problem with that is Covid cases are now rising, but many will be dissuaded or prohibited from testing - the rising cost of living is hitting households, plus there are high levels of income deprivation in the city.

The risk then is that people will spread Covid because they don't know they are a carrier of the virus.

So we applaud Portsmouth City Council for planning to introduce a pioneering initiative to keep on providing free home test kits after the government's scheme ends on March 31.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson says he is very worried about infection rates and wants to support people who want to get tested before seeing vulnerable friends and family members.

Under the plan, anyone with a Portsmouth address would be able to collect five free lateral flow tests a month until the end of June.

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

The scheme, expected to cost between £316,000 and £365,000, will be paid for from money awarded to the council through the government's 'Contain Outbreak Management Fund'.

We hope it's a big success and that other councils follow Portsmouth's lead.