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Ending free Covid testing is a mistake, says Sir Keir Starmer

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nding free coronavirus tests would be a “mistake”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Boris Johnson has been preparing to unveil his plan for “living with Covid”.

But the Labour leader urged ministers not to force Britons to pay for tests as Covid regulations are wound down.

The Prime Minister reportedly is considering plans to change the law so that everyone – including vulnerable people, children and healthcare workers –will have to pay to access tests for the virus, according to LBC.

Lateral flow and PCR tests are currently available free of charge, though the Treasury reportedly believes the estimated £10 billion annual cost of the scheme is not sustainable as it seeks to reduce the deficit.

In place of a general testing programme, ministers will rely on data from Covid surveillance schemes to monitor the spread of the virus.

Mandatory self-isolation for those who test positive will also come to an end as part of Mr Johnson’s “living with Covid” plan.

Sir Keir told The Guardian it would “be a mistake to end free Covid tests” – though he stopped short of saying whether he agreed with ending quarantine measures.

The Government has previously indicated “universal free provision” of lateral flow tests will eventually come to an end.

A Government spokesperson said no decisions had yet been made on free testing in response to LBC’s report.

“Testing continues to play an important role in helping people live their day-to-day lives, keep businesses running and keep young people in school,” they said.

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