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Lateral flow tests will no longer be free as part of the government’s bid to assert the UK must start learning to ‘live with covid’, and there is growing concern about how people will afford them alongside rising living costs.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on 21st February that from Friday (1st April), the tests, which are used to confirm whether you are contagious, will be scrapped for everyone except for care home residents, hospital patients and other vulnerable groups if they start exhibiting symptoms.
Lateral flow tests will be available from high street pharmacies from Friday, with a pack of five tests costing around £10.
Boots will sell a single test for £2 and £9.80 for a pack of five.
Superdrug will sell lateral flow tests in-store and online, with a single test priced at £1.99 and a pack of five for £9.79.
A single lateral flow tests will be available at Lloyds Pharmacy at £1.89 and a pack of five for £9.29.
Tesco Pharmacy will sell lateral flow tests starting at £2. Customers in London will be able to purchase lateral flow tests online, with an online order system set to be established for customers across the country from May.
Morrisons Pharmacy will sell a single lateral flow test for £1.75.
When the government confirmed that lateral flow tests will no longer be free, numerous reports suggested that people will have to pay between £2-£5 per individual lateral flow, or between £20 - £30 for a box of seven.
Taking to Twitter, one person wrote: “Ending restrictions and charging **FIVE POUNDS EACH** for lateral flow tests is just asking those of us who are sick and disabled to either a) be in self-imposed isolation forever, b) bankrupt ourselves trying to stay safe, or c) die. Cool.”
“We now have to pay for Lateral Flow Tests? If the price is £20 a box…that’s going to mean a lot of people won’t be able to afford them. Especially not regularly,” a second person said.
“From April, a lot of people will have to choose between eating or heating, so I’m glad to see that the Tories will solve this by charging £20 for a pack of lateral flow tests so that they no longer have to choose because they can afford neither,” a third person sniped, and a fourth wrote: “My grandad is in a care home, and every visitor has to provide a negative lateral flow test in order to be allowed in. This requirement should continue but many people won't be able to afford to pay for tests and will be unable to visit their loved ones.”
“People can't afford to put food on the table. Can't afford to heat their homes. And yet are expected to take ‘personal responsibility’ by paying £20 for lateral flow tests? Yep, makes sense,” said a fifth.
Other covid regulations have been scrapped or scaled back.
People who now test positive for covid from Thursday 24th February will no longer be legally required to isolate for five days, although it is still advised you avoid contact with crowds.
The £500 payment to support people to self-isolate is also being removed.
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