End to free Covid tests could 'jeopardise progress made', warns councillor

Cllr Richard Howitt of Cambridgeshire County Council

Cllr Richard Howitt remains "concerned that the impact of reduced testing could jeopardise the progress made" in the battle against Covid-19. - Credit: Harry Rutter

A Cambridgeshire county councillor has raised concerns over whether reduced Covid-19 testing “could jeopardise the progress made” in the battle against coronavirus. 

Cllr Richard Howitt also believes less testing could make it harder for scientists to identify new variants of Covid. 

His comments come after prime minister Boris Johnson announced an end to all Covid restrictions in England, including free testing for the public from April 1

Cllr Howitt, chair of the county council’s adults and health committee, said: “I remain concerned that the impact of reduced testing could jeopardise the progress made and make it more difficult to identify new variants. 

“The scientific evidence to support this decision has not been published in advance.   

“I hope local people will choose to continue to isolate where they have symptoms, use face masks and take up all opportunities for vaccination.” 

Boris Johnson announces end to Covid restrictions in England

Cllr RIchard Howitt's concerns come after Boris Johnson announced free Covid testing would come to an end for the general public, as would all restrictions in England. - Credit: PA

Concerns remain over whether the protection offered by the Covid vaccine will be enough to combat new variants that could appear. 

Local health chiefs have since outlined a list of safety measures, which include:  

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- Avoid going to the workplace (work from home if possible) or meeting other people, if you have symptoms; 

- continue testing over the next month, especially if you are visiting vulnerable people or have symptoms;  

- making sure indoor spaces are well-ventilated (I.e. opening a window) and that there is an efficient flow of people in and out;  

- letting people know they can use face coverings or screens if they wish;  

- regular hand washing and use of hand sanitiser which will help combat the spread of Covid, as well as other infections;  

- continuing regular cleaning of surfaces;  

- getting two doses of a Covid vaccine and the booster. 

Jyoti Atri, Cambridgeshire’s director of public health, wants residents to make the most of the easing of restrictions. 

“It has been a long and painful two years, so it is only right that after all the sacrifices made people make the most of the spring and summer months,” she said. 

“At the moment, due to the vaccine, Covid is not causing the level of harm that we have seen with previous waves, although it is still a risk to vulnerable people.   

“We need to be prepared if this situation changes due to immunity waning or a new and dangerous variant.”