BASINGSTOKE residents will be informed “in the coming days” where they will be able to collect lateral flow Covid tests following the closure of The Anvil testing site, as the government announces today these will be available for everyone from Friday.

From April 9, everyone in England will be able to take a free rapid Covid test twice a week as part of the government’s plans to reopen society and the economy.

Alongside the vaccine rollout, regular testing is hoped to help suppress and control the spread of variants of Covid.

However, residents in the town still have no idea where they can collect tests after The Anvil testing site closes on Tuesday.  

The Gazette has asked the Department for Health and Social Care, as well as Hampshire County Council, for further information but has been told it will be announced “in the coming days”. 

The government has said free, regular, rapid Covid testing for everyone in England is a “significant step forward, which paves the way for businesses and society reopening”.

So far, it has only been available for certain groups, including frontline NHS workers, care home staff and residents, and schoolchildren and their families.

From Friday, everyone will be encouraged to take regular tests to help prevent outbreaks and help the country return to a more normal way of life.

One in three people with Covid do not experience any symptoms and may be spreading the virus unwittingly.

Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately.

Since rapid testing was introduced, more than 120,000 positive cases have already been identified, that would not have been found otherwise.

The government said by making rapid tests available to everyone, more cases will be detected, breaking chains of transmission and saving lives.

Updates will be made to the NHS Covid-19 app in England to coincide with the offer of rapid testing for everyone.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Massive efforts have been made by the British public to stop the spread of the virus.

“As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our roadmap to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.

“That’s why we’re now rolling out free rapid tests to everyone across England – helping us to stop outbreaks in their tracks, so we can get back to seeing the people we love and doing the things we enjoy.”

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “Around one in three people who have Covid-19 show no symptoms, and as we reopen society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.

“The vaccine programme has been a shot in the arm for the whole country, but reclaiming our lost freedoms and getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly.

“The British public have shown over the last year that they quickly adapt and always do what it is right in the interest of public health, and I know they will do their bit by getting tested regularly in the months ahead.”

Getting a rapid test

More than 100,000 businesses in England have registered their interest to provide rapid tests to their employees, and the offer of free testing is being expanded to companies with over ten workers where on-site testing is impossible.

The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered through:

• A home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home

• Workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home

• Community testing, offered by all local authorities

• Collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows

• Testing on-site at schools and colleges.

A new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service is also launching which will provide an additional route to regular testing. People aged over 18 without symptoms will be able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of seven rapid tests to use twice a week at home.

The best route for testing can be found at NHS.UK/get-tested.

If testing at home, individuals will need to register their results online or by calling 119, and self-isolating if positive and ordering a confirmatory PCR test.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should book a test online or by calling 119.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 strategic response director at PHE and chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, said: “Rapid testing helps us find Covid-19 cases that we wouldn’t otherwise know about, helping to break chains of transmission.

"These tests are effective in detecting people that are infectious and therefore most likely to transmit infection to others. They are another tool we now have to help maintain lower infection rates.

“I encourage everyone to take up the offer of these free rapid tests – they are quick and easy to carry out in your own home.”

Recent analysis from NHS Test and Trace shows that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is less than one false positive result.

LFDs detect cases with high levels of virus and are very effective in finding people who don’t have symptoms but are very likely to transmit the disease.

NHS Covid-19 app updates

To coincide with the offer of free rapid testing for everyone, there will be updates to the NHS Covid-19 app in England from 8 April:

• Everyone in a group must check in - In line with new regulations, when a group enters a hospitality venue, every individual must check either by scanning the official NHS QR code poster with the NHS Covid-19 app, or by providing their contact details. Previously, only the lead member of the group needed to provide contact details to check in.

• Venue history sharing– if an app user tests positive, they will be asked to share their venue history in a privacy-protecting way via the app. This will allow venue alerts to be generated more quickly, and improve the ability to identify where outbreaks are occurring and take steps to prevent the virus spreading.

• Additional venue alerts– if a person has been at a venue on the same day as several other people who have since tested positive for Covid-19, they may receive an alert, advising them to book a test immediately, whether they are showing symptoms or not. This is to support finding asymptomatic cases who may have caught the virus but are not displaying symptoms.

• New QR code posters– There will be new posters displaying QR codes for hospitality venues in England. Work has taken place with the industry to make the posters clearer and easier to use. All venues in England in scope of the regulations are legally required to display an official NHS QR code poster.