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Asymptomatic Covid testing for nurses to be paused from next week

Asymptomatic Covid testing for nurses to be paused from next week

Asymptomatic Covid testing for NHS staff in England – including in care homes – will be paused from next week (31 August), the Government has announced.

It said this comes in response to declining rates of Covid transmission and thanks to the success of the vaccination campaign.

Asymptomatic testing will also stop in social care settings, except in the case of newly-admitted patients to care homes. In hospital settings, asymptomatic testing will continue for immunocompromised patients.

Symptomatic testing will continue in both NHS and social care settings, and testing will also be available for outbreaks in certain high-risk settings such as care homes.

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘Thanks to the success of our world-leading vaccination roll-out, we are able to continue living with Covid and, from 31 August, we will pause routine asymptomatic testing in most high-risk settings.

‘This reflects the fact case rates have fallen and the risk of transmission has reduced, though we will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with sectors to resume testing should it be needed. Those being admitted into care homes will continue to be tested.

‘Our upcoming autumn booster programme will offer jabs to protect those at greatest risk from severe Covid, and I urge everyone who is eligible to take up the offer.’

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘Covid case rates and hospitalisations are on the decline, demonstrating the positive impact of the vaccines, which remain our best form of defence.

‘The data from our surveillance shows prevalence is low and decreasing, and we will continue to monitor this data closely.’

Free testing for the public ended on 1 April as part of the Government’s Living with Covid plan, although it continued for nurses and other healthcare workers.

Covid cases have now fallen to 40,027 and the risk of transmission has reduced, the Government said. Deaths have fallen to 744 and hospitalisations to 6,005 in the last seven days.

GPs have been told to start delivering the autumn Covid booster campaign from 5 September, with patients set to receive Moderna’s new Omicron booster jab.

A version of this article was originally published on our sister publication Pulse.

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