Lateral Flow Tests
Customers are seen inside a private Covid-19 testing clinic in a busy shopping area, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in London, Britain, December 22, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Provision of free lateral flow tests could end in the UK, and prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to make the big announcement within weeks, The Sunday Times has reported.

The report said that in future free test kits could be provided only in high-risk settings such as care homes, hospitals and schools, and to people with symptoms, and contact tracing by NHS Test and Trace is also expected to be scaled back.

The newspaper quoted a senior Whitehall source as saying: “I don’t think we are in a world where we can continue to hand out free lateral flow tests to everybody.

“It’s likely we will move to a scenario where there is less testing, but we have a capacity to ramp it up if necessary.”

It added that more than £6 billion of public money has already been spent on mass testing.

Separately, Dr Clive Dix, former chairman of the country’s vaccine task force said that Covid-19 should now be treated as a flu, and mass vaccination campaigns should end after the booster shots in the UK.

Talking to Sky News on Sunday (January 9) he said: It’s “pointless giving more and more vaccine to people who are not going to get very ill” as we need a more “targeted” approach for the vulnerable.

His statement came as the UK government said that more than 150,000 people have succumbed to the Covid-19 infection in the country.

Prime minister Johnson wrote on Twitter: “Coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on our country and today the number of deaths recorded has reached 150,000.

“Each and every one of those is a profound loss to the families, friends and communities affected and my thoughts and condolences are with them. Our way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get their booster or their first or second dose if they haven’t yet.”

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