Regular asymptomatic testing paused in additional settings

Regular asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 in all remaining settings in England will be paused from 31 August, as COVID-19 cases continue to fall.

Free testing for the public ended on 1 April as part of the government’s Living with COVID plan, but asymptomatic testing continued to be used in some settings during periods of high case rates.

The Department for Health and Social Care says wider asymptomatic testing can soon end as planned in most instances due to falling deaths and hospitalisations. Symptomatic testing in high-risk settings will continue.

Settings where asymptomatic testing of staff and patients or residents will be paused include:

· the NHS (including independent healthcare providers treating NHS patients)

· adult social care and hospice services (apart from new admissions)

· parts of the prison estate and some places of detention

· certain domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings

Testing will remain in place for admissions into care homes and hospices from both hospitals and the community, and for transfers for immunocompromised patients into and within hospital to protect those who are most vulnerable.

Testing will also be available for outbreaks in certain high-risk settings such as care homes.

Year-round symptomatic testing will continue to be provided in some settings, including:

· NHS patients who require testing as part of established clinical pathways or those eligible for COVID-19 treatments

· NHS staff and staff in NHS-funded independent healthcare provision

· staff in adult social care services and hospices and residents of care homes, extra care and supported living settings and hospices

· staff and detainees in prisons

· staff and service users of certain domestic abuse refuges and homelessness services

The government continues to encourage all who are eligible to take up boosters. Autumn boosters will be available to book through the National Booking Service ahead of the wider roll-out, due to start on 12 September. The NHS will contact people when it is their turn.

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.’

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘COVID-19 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.

‘If you are invited to receive a booster jab in the autumn, or if you have not yet had a COVID-19 vaccine, please do take up the offer to protect yourself and those around you.’

The government expects the prevalence of COVID-19 to remain low following the most recent wave but will keep the situation under review. In line with the Living with COVID plan, the government will continue to work closely with sectors and services and will be ready to resume testing if required.

Photo by Medakit Ltd


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top