Covid: Free lateral flow testing ends in Wales but remains for most vulnerable

Lateral flow tests will no longer be widely available for free to the general public in Wales Credit: PA Images

General access to free lateral flow Covid tests has ended in Wales after decreasing case numbers and an easing of pressure on the NHS, the Welsh Government has said.

Access for the most vulnerable and those working in health and social care settings, however, would remain in place.

The provision of free lateral flow tests had been extended due to an increase in Covid numbers, particularly involving cases of the BA.4 and and BA.5 sub-variants of the disease, although the government now believes the peak has passed.

Case numbers had risen although pressure on the NHS has now eased, the Welsh Government said Credit: PA Images

In a recent statement, Health Minister Eluned Morgan said the move would help shore up resources for any future outbreaks.

She said: "In view of the latest evidence, including decreasing prevalence, from 1 August we will pause provision of free lateral flow tests to members of the public with symptoms of COVID-19.

"This is consistent with our long-term COVID-19 transition from pandemic to endemic for Wales, published in March.

"It also ensures we safeguard resources for potential future waves during autumn/winter that may, alongside colder weather and other respiratory viruses, provide additional challenges and risks."

The provision of free lateral flow test kits had been extended due to rising case numbers Credit: PA Images

Testing facilities will continue to be provided in certain circumstances, including:

  • Lateral flow and PCR testing for those eligible for Covid-19 treatments

  • Lateral flow testing for those visiting people eligible for Covid-19 treatments

  • Lateral flow testing for those visiting care homes

  • PCR testing for Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses for symptomatic care home residents and prisoners

  • Lateral flow testing for symptomatic health and social care staff

Health and social care staff will also continue to receive lateral flow tests for asymptomatic cases. The Welsh Government said this policy will be reviewed when case numbers fall.

Wales' coronavirus death toll currently stands at 10,505, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the week ending 15 July.