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Paul Scully defends scaling back of free Covid tests

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minister has defended a major scaling back of free Covid tests amid concerns being raised by Tory and Oppposition MPs.

Business minister Paul Scully stressed that billions being spent on the free tests could instead be used for services such as cancer treatment and dealing with the NHS backlog.

He admitted that a “fine balance” needed to be struck between protecting public health, and ditching all Covid restrictions and other measures to get back to life closer to normal to boost the economy.

He also argued that Britain was well-placed to move from the pandemic stage of the Covid crisis to the endemic phase where the disease is treated more like flu.

But former Tory children’s minister Tim Loughton raised concerns over restricting lateral flow tests too tightly.

The East Worthing and Shoreham MP told the BBC’s Westminster Hour: “It’s two years on now from when this wretched pandemic started, and we have got to learn to live with Covid and not lock everything down and retreat until it goes away because it’s going to be with us for some time to come.

“I’m pleased we’re trying to get back to as normal.. normality as possible.”

However, he added: “I have slight apprehensions in that I think we still do need to have testing available widely because I think that is the reassurance people can have that they’ve taken all possible precautions and they don’t want to infect other people.”

Boris Johnson was chairing Cabinet on Monday morning, which was expected to agree to end the legal obligation to self-isolate if positive and a major reduction in free LFT tests.

London minister Mr Scully told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s a fine balance.

“We can’t continue to spend £2 billion a month on testing when there are other measures..where we can get back to a more semblance of normal life.

“That £2 billion could be spent on other priorities, for example people may be worried about cancer diagnoses. these kind of things, and backlog in the NHS.”

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