SNP told ‘bring back free Covid tests in cost of living crisis’

HUMZA Yousaf is being asked to «urgently reverse» the decision to scrap free lateral flow testing amid the cost of living crisis.

The call is being made by Labour MSP Katy Clark, who represents West Scotland, who described the decision to remove universal provision as “an attack on the poorest in our society”.

Last month, she called on the Health Secretary to outline what scientific advice it had taken regarding when such testing was considered “no longer necessary”.
Mr Yousaf said the Scottish Government had sought input from “public health specialists who support a move to focus on protecting those at highest clinical risk.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon subsequently announced that free lateral flow tests would no longer be available to the general population as of 18 April.

Ms Clark, pictured below, said: “Hundreds of people are still dying across the UK from Covid-19 every day and thousands of vulnerable people are still shielding due to fears about the virus. 


“No one expects restrictions to last forever but living with Covid should mean access to testing when needed. Removing that access could be fatal for many.
“Ensuring free testing at the point of use for all is one of the very principles of our NHS, but that principle apparently ceased to matter last week.
“Richer people will pay whilst many of the poorest in society will not know if they even have Covid. That’s what ending free testing for asymptomatic people means in practice.
“Stripping away access, particularly during a cost of living crisis, is nothing more than attack on the poorest in our society. The Scottish Government must reverse its decision.”
Self-isolation requirements will be scrapped this weekend in favour of guidance urging people in Scotland to “stay at home” if they are unwell.
The Scottish Government has said people with Covid symptoms no longer need to take a PCR test and confirmed that mass testing would end tomorrow.
The Protect Scotland contact tracing app will be shut down “shortly”, however, the government is advising people to keep it on their phones in case it is needed again. The NHS will be taken off emergency measures from tomorrow.
Free lateral flow tests will continue to be available for unpaid carers or people in prison, people who work in the health or social care sectors, are visiting hospitals or care homes or are receiving treatment.
The biggest change, due to come into force on Sunday, is the end of the requirement for people with Covid symptoms to isolate.
Adults and children who have a fever or are too unwell to go about their daily business will instead be asked to stay home until they feel well.
Mr Yousaf thanked Test and Protect volunteers and said: “I would also like to thank the Scottish public for their commitment and willingness to engage with Test and Protect when it was required of them and helping to protect their fellow citizens.
“However, we recognise we are now in a different phase of the pandemic. The primary purpose of testing is changing from population-wide testing to reduce transmission, to a targeted response focused on reducing severe harm of the virus.”
Scotland has recorded 29 Covid-linked deaths and 2,587 cases in the past 24 hours, according to figures published yesterday. It means the total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid has risen to 12,035.
Public Health Scotland data published yesterday showed there were 1,458 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid, down 71 on the day before. There were 23 people in intensive care with recently confirmed Covid, down two on the previous day.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: «It was confirmed earlier this month that people without Covid-19 symptoms will no longer be asked to take regular lateral flow tests from 18 April. 
«The change forms part of the Test and Protect Transition Plan, which sets out that, following public health advice, the primary purpose of testing is changing from population wide testing to reduce transmission to targeted testing to support clinical care. 
“Given the changing advice, free lateral flow devices (LFDs) for the purposes of twice weekly routine testing are no longer be available for the general population, but will continue to be free for any purpose for which testing continues to be advised – including for clinical care, for health and social care workers and for people visiting care homes or hospitals.”

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