Everyone in England to be offered twice weekly rapid coronavirus tests from later this week

Rapid coronavirus tests capable of giving results within half an hour will be available for everyone in England twice a week, the Government has announced.

In the latest move out of lockdown the Government said that from April 9 two tests a week will be available for anyone, with or without symptoms.

It comes as Boris Johnson is expected to outline plans for a “traffic light system” for international travel later today, as well as setting out more details on how a “Covid status certification” scheme could enable the safe return of mass gatherings and indoor events.

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Rapid testing has so far been available to those most at risk and people who need to leave home for work, including frontline NHS workers.

File photo dated 25/09/20 of a person undertaking a coronavirus test. Photo: PA

The wider rollout aims to help the Government identify and control new coronavirus variants, and comes as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased across the UK.

People will be able to obtain a test through a home ordering service, workplace or school testing programme, or by collecting one at a local test site.

A new “pharmacy collect” service is also being launched, which will provide an additional route to regular testing.

Those aged over 18 without symptoms will be able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of seven rapid tests to use twice a week at home.

The Prime Minister said the rollout will help stop Covid-19 outbreaks “in their tracks”.

He said: “As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our road map to cautiously easing restrictions under way, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.”

The NHS Covid-19 app is also due to be updated from April 8, with everyone in a group now required to check-in when entering a hospitality venue, rather than just one person.

The app will also require users who test positive to share their venue history in a “privacy-protecting way” via the program, the Government said.

Those who have been at a venue on the same day as several others who have since tested positive for Covid-19 will receive an alert advising them to book a test immediately, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Around one in three people who have Covid-19 show no symptoms, and as we reopen society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.

“The vaccine programme has been a shot in the arm for the whole country, but reclaiming our lost freedoms and getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly.

“The British public have shown over the last year that they quickly adapt and always do what is right in the interest of public health, and I know they will do their bit by getting tested regularly in the months ahead.”

More than 120,000 positive cases have already been identified through the use of lateral flow testing.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is set to face backlash from MPs across the political spectrum over plans for anything resembling a “vaccine passport”.

More than 40 Tory MPs have publicly declared their opposition to the idea, and Mr Johnson could struggle to get the plan through Parliament if they decide to oppose it.

In developing the scheme, officials will take into account three factors – whether an individual has received the vaccine, has recently tested negative for the virus, or has “natural immunity” having tested positive in the previous six months.

The NHS is said to be currently working on ways of providing people with the means to demonstrate their Covid status through “digital and non-digital routes”, and the IT company helping the Government with a possible Covid-19 passport app to be ready in May.

The Prime Minister will also outline the Government’s approach for easing restrictions on foreign travel when its global travel task force reports on April 12.

Ministers have made clear that the ban on foreign travel will remain in place until at least May 17.

When it is finally lifted, it will be replaced by a risk-based “traffic light” system with red, amber and green ratings for countries around the world.

This will be based on a range of factors – including the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Travellers arriving from countries rated “green” will not be required to isolate – although pre-departure and post-arrival tests will still be needed.

For those classed as “amber” or “red”, the restrictions will remain as they are will arrivals required to isolate or enter quarantine.

Officials said it was still too early to predict which countries would be on which list and they continue to advise against booking summer holidays abroad.