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England pauses Covid testing for health staff without symptoms

London, Aug 25 (IANS) Covid-19 testing among the National Health Service (NHS) and care home staff with no symptoms in England is to be “paused” at the end of August, officials have announced.

The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has announced said that the decision to stop all “asymptomatic testing” comes as cases of the virus continue to fall, reports dpa news agency.

Routine asymptomatic testing for the general population stopped earlier this year and tests were no longer free to access for the general public.

But health and social care leaders called for testing among NHS and care staff to continue amid high case numbers.

Testing for staff and patients without symptoms continued in NHS, social care and some prison settings.

The department said that it made the decision to pause routine testing for most people without symptoms from August 31, but it will resume the programme “should it be needed”.

Asymptomatic testing will remain in place for people being admitted hospices and for those going into care homes and for immunocompromised patients who are being admitted to hospital, it said.

Testing for people with symptoms will continue in some NHS, social care and prison system settings.

This will include NHS staff with symptoms; patients who need a diagnosis so they can access Covid-19 treatments; care home and hospice staff; social care staff; hospice and care home residents; prison staff and detainees and staff and service users of certain domestic abuse refuges and homelessness services.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Thanks to the success of our world-leading vaccination roll-out, we are able to continue living with Covid and, from August 31, we will pause routine asymptomatic testing in most high-risk settings.

“This reflects the fact case rates have fallen and the risk of transmission has reduced, though we will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with sectors to resume testing should it be needed.

“Those being admitted into care homes will continue to be tested.

“Our upcoming autumn booster programme will offer jabs to protect those at greatest risk from severe Covid, and I urge everyone who is eligible to take up the offer.”

–IANS

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