Routine COVID-19 testing in GP practices to stop from next week

Routine asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 will be paused in GP practices and other NHS settings from the end of August, the government has announced.

(Photo: Emma Farrer/Getty Images)

NHS officials said testing would end across the NHS, in adult social care and hospice services and in other settings from 31 August.

Asymptomatic testing will continue for patients admitted to care homes and hospices both from hospitals and from the community and for 'transfers for immunocompromised patients into and within hospital', the DHSC confirmed.

Testing will also continue to be available in the event of outbreaks in settings such as care homes.

COVID-19 testing

The government said the decision had been taken in light of falling COVID-19 cases, which it said demonstrated the success of the UK vaccination programme.

The latest infection survey from the Office for National Statistics showed that infections had 'continued to fall across much of the UK to levels last seen in mid-June', and that decreases were consistent across 'nearly all ages'.

In the week ending 6 August around one in 40 people in England were infected with COVID-19, along with around one in 40 in Wales in the week to 8 August, one in 50 in Northern Ireland and one in 30 in Scotland.

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-19 and from 31 August we will pause routine asymptomatic testing in most high-risk settings.

Risk of transmission

'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-19, and I urge everyone who is eligible to take up the offer.'

Chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency Dr Susan Hopkins 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.'

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