Testing rules for Covid are to be eased for people without symptoms, who will no longer need to confirm a positive lateral flow test with a PCR from next week.

The change will come into effect from Tuesday 11th January and will only apply to England for now, says the UK Health Security Agency.

They added that although Covid levels are high, people can be confident that rapid tests are highly accurate.

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It is said that they will review the change when the proportion of people with Covid in England drops below 1% which currently stands at around 4% says the Office for National Statistics.

So, from the 11th, anyone in England who receives a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result should report their result on and must self-isolate immediately, but will not need to take a follow-up PCR test.

NHS Test and Trace with be in contact after reporting a positive LFD test result so that their contacts can be traced.

After 7 days of the initial positive test, those who test negative twice, 24 hours apart on days 6 and 7, then they can leave self-isolation.

Currently, before the changes are implemented, those with a positive lateral flow test who has no symptoms need a PCR test – carried out in a lab – to confirm their result which can take days at a time to receive a result.

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Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said:

“While cases of Covid continue to rise, this tried-and-tested approach means that LFDs can be used confidently to indicate Covid-19 infection without the need for PCR confirmation.

“I’m really grateful to the public and all of our critical workers who continue to test regularly and self-isolate when necessary, along with other practical and important public health behaviours, as this is the most effective way of stopping the spread of the virus and keeping our friends, families and communities safe.”

Last night (Tuesday), Boris Johnson recommended England stick with the Plan B restrictions, which include working from home if possible, mask-wearing in most public settings and the use of Covid passports in some venues. Meaning there are currently no changes since being introduced in December.

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The current Plan B measures are due to end on 28 January.

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