Everyone in England will be able to take a free rapid COVID-19 test twice a week from Friday as the British government seeks to extend its testing program, health authorities announced Monday.
The lateral flow kits, which can provide results in around 30 minutes, will be available for free at testing sites, pharmacies and through the post.
“As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine program and with our road map cautiously easing restrictions under way, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Lateral flow tests are already offered to school children and their families as well as those who have to leave home for work.
However, some medical experts in Britain are skeptical.
Sian Taylor-Phillips, professor of population health at the University of Warwick, told Sky News: “We don’t know how well lateral flow tests work in terms of accuracy in people’s homes. So when people are doing the test unsupervised we don’t know if it will still be as effective.”
“The really critical thing we don’t know is what effect it has on the transmission of coronavirus,” Taylor-Phillips said.
Johnson is scheduled to hold a Downing Street briefing later Monday, and he is expected to announce the next phase of lockdown easing while confirming that countries will be graded under a traffic light system when foreign travel resumes.
He is also set to outline plans for coronavirus passports as the country edges toward normality.
More than 31.5 million people in Britain have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the official figures.
Experts have warned Britain is “still not out of the woods” amid concerns over new variants and the third wave of pandemic in the European continent.