Health and social care workers will no longer be required to test for COVID-19 every week as asymptomatic testing was paused on 28 September.
The four UK Chief Medical Officers agreed it is safe to halt weekly staff testing, visitor and carer testing and hospital admission testing following a change to the Covid-19 alert level and, importantly, a high uptake of vaccinations.
Stakeholders were informed of the change to the guidance on 14 September and some healthcare and social care settings may therefore choose to pause regular testing before the end of the month.
It is the latest restriction to be lifted in health and social care settings – following the decision earlier this month to remove the requirement for facemasks in social care homes.
Unpaid carers and visitors to care homes and hospitals will no longer need to undertake routine testing, but those planning to see family or friends in these settings are advised follow the ‘Covid Sense’ guidelines and steer clear if they are unwell.
Testing will remain in place for admissions into care homes and to support appropriate clinical diagnosis and treatment for hospital patients and care home residents.
Outbreak testing and symptomatic testing for healthcare workers in patient facing roles will also continue. Changes to testing will be kept under regular clinical review.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“The huge success of our world-leading vaccination programme means we are now able to pause routine asymptomatic testing in most high-risk settings.
“This is the latest step in our return to normal life, but we must apply Covid Sense to keep these freedoms and ease the pressure on the NHS over winter.
“Vaccination remains our best line of defence against COVID-19 and I urge everyone who is eligible for the winter vaccination programme to take up the offer of an appointment when it’s offered.”