Covid test fury: Independent SAGE anger at Boriss ridiculous plan to AXE free tests

Johnson announces end to Covid isolation from February 24th

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Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, the Prime Minister announced the move from “Government restrictions” in living with the virus to “personal responsibility”. Mr Johnson added that this “personal responsibility” should be considered by the public in a way similar to those ill with flu.

From Thursday, February 24, all remaining domestic legal restrictions on COVID-19 will be removed.

This includes the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test.

The Prime Minister also announced an end to routine contact tracing, with fully vaccinated close contacts of positive cases no longer required to test for a week with lateral flow tests.

He added that unvaccinated close contacts will also not have to self-isolate following exposure.

Free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing will come to an end, the Prime Minister announced, in a move that will see people needing to pay for both rapid lateral flow tests and lab-analysed PCR tests.

The stripping away of all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England has been slammed by Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor at the University of Leeds and guest member of the independent SAGE group.

Dr Griffin told that the Prime Minister’s decision to end free testing was a “disaster” for the country and a move to which he had a “moral objection”.

Dr Griffin said: “It’s going to generate a two-tier society in terms of [people’s] ability to be aware of their status.

“Wealthy people, well-supported people, will understand if they have an infection.”

He added that the majority consensus in the independent SAGE group was that “you’re going to have to choose between heating your house, eating or testing for Covid now.

“And that’s ridiculous.”

Mr Johnson made the caveat that free testing for those who are clinically vulnerable or in older age groups will remain in place for symptomatic cases.

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But Dr Griffin said that making testing less widely available is going to “further disable clinically vulnerable people”.

He added: “There’s no way that if prevalence is as high as it is now, not understanding if someone’s infectious is going to help anybody with a disability or is clinically vulnerable.

“They’re going to have to segregate themselves in society again.

“They’ve basically been living a half-life the last two years, anyway.

“So I have a moral objection to that.”

He emphasised: “It’s ethically sound to test yourself.”

In his address to the Commons, Mr Johnson cited the economic burden of the government-funded testing programme as one motivation to move away from free testing.

He said that over the last financial year, providing free testing had cost £15.7billion pounds – and £2billion in January alone.

Praising the world-leading vaccine rollout and the subsequent booster programme, Mr Johnson said that although the “pandemic is not over, we have passed the peak of the Omicron wave”.

He said that with over 71 percent of all adults boosted in England, “we now have sufficient levels of immunity” to remove the legal restrictions.

Earlier on Monday, the Government announced that they would carry out a spring booster campaign for over-75s and those who are clinically vulnerable.

The latest figures show 38,409 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, and 15 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

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