BORIS Johnson could scrap free Covid testing according to reports but the Welsh Government has warned such a decision could undermine Wales' ability to deal with any future outbreaks.

The Welsh Government said it had raised concerns with the UK Government, over fresh reports the prime minister's new Living With Covid Strategy will end free lateral flow tests (LFTs) for the public.

Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething has already said the reported proposal would be a "significant mistake" that would have health and financial implications for the coronavirus response in Wales.

"If we were to provide lateral flow tests without UK purchasing, it would be a significant dent in our budget," he said at the most recent Covid review announcement. "That would have to come out of other priorities and we don’t have a budget allocation to do that."

During the recent Omicron wave, the Welsh Government promoted the regular use of LFTs for people who wanted to socialise and visit others, under the slogan "flow before you go".

Data from Public Health Wales shows LFTs are still playing a significant role in tracking the course of the virus, even though Omicron appears to be well in retreat.

The most recent figures show 182,000 test results were reported from LFT use in Wales last week.


Reports the UK Government will scrap free LFTs form part of wider rumours the Treasury is seeking to slash its Covid spending by billions of pounds.

The move has caused concern around the UK that funding the continued use of LFTs will rest solely with the devolved governments that have generally taken a more cautious approach to the pandemic response.

"Decisions on access to testing aren’t solely for the UK Government," a Welsh Government spokesperson told our sister title The South Wales Argus. "From the outset, all four governments have contributed financially for access to testing and agreements were put in place to ensure testing was made available when and where it is needed. 

"A UK Government unilateral decision to end testing would have serious implications for the ability of the other three nations to respond to any future outbreaks. We have raised this with the UK Government and reiterated the importance of all four nations to be part of any decisions."

Ahead of the prime minister's new Covid plan, the UK Government says it is yet to make a final decision on scrapping LFTs, with a spokesman telling the Guardian on Monday: "We’ve previously set out that we’ll keep the provision of free testing under review as the government’s response to Covid-19 changes.

"No decisions have been made on the provision of free testing. Everyone can continue to get free tests and we are continuing to encourage people to use rapid tests when they need them."

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