Local public health officials are criticizing a UK plan to pare back free PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2, the Guardian reports.
According to the Guardian, ministers plan to do away with free PCR testing for people with COVID-19 symptoms outside of hospital and high-risk settings by the end of March. Instead, symptomatic individuals will be encouraged to seek lateral flow testing. At the same time, the "living with COVID" plan would no longer recommend that asymptomatic people undergo regular testing, it says. The plan, the Guardian notes, would reduce government costs.
But it adds that the Association of Directors of Public Health has warned that the plan would make the UK vulnerable if a new COVID-19 variant were to arise. The group says, according to the Guardian, that COVID-19 has "yet to become endemic" and that it is "difficult to predict when this state may be attained."
A government spokesperson tells the Guardian that free testing was under review, but that no decisions have been made. "Everyone can continue to get free tests and we are continuing to encourage people to use rapid tests when they need them," the spokesperson adds.