Free lateral flow tests for NHS staff must be maintained amid new Covid fears – The Yorkshire Post says

MAGGIE THROUP, the Shipley-born Vaccines Minister, cannot have it both ways.

She cites the importance of lateral flow tests in protecting NHS staff from Covid – but refuses to confirm that this safeguard will remain in place.

The background is this. Provision of free tests is due to officially end on Thursday. Yet this coincides with a sharp surge in new infections as society returns to normal after two years of lockdowns and social restrictions.

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And York appears to be emblematic of Covid’s resurgence – the city’s MP Rachael Maskell reports that “the case rate is now 977.7 per 100,000, 261 patients are in hospital poorly, five more deaths have just been announced and four people are in intensive care, so the virus is far from leaving us”.

Should NHS staff continue to receive free lateral flow tests?Should NHS staff continue to receive free lateral flow tests?
Should NHS staff continue to receive free lateral flow tests?

Now Ms Throup points to the success of the Covid vaccine in limiting transmission rates and that a spring booster programme is now being launched. But she also told Parliament late on Monday that “the pandemic is by no means over”. On this basis, it would be prudent to maintain free lateral flow tests for NHS staff and carers at the very least.

These are, after all, the people who risked their lives to treat Covid patients at the height of the pandemic. Yet they’re also crucial to the country’s continuing resilience and should continue to be eligible for free tests to reduce the risk of the virus being passed on inadvertently to those in their care.

As such, The Yorkshire Post appeals to Ms Throup to think again before public health is put at unnecessary risk at this time by what appears to be short-sighted penny-pinching.

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