General access to free lateral flow tests has been ended by the Welsh Government, but they remain free for the most vulnerable. 

The decision has come following a decrease in case numbers which has in turn eased pressures on the NHS. 

After an increase in cases of BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants in June, Welsh Government extended access to free lateral flow tests for members of the public with symptoms of COVID-19 until July 31.

Covid cases in Wales were expected to peak during July, but the government now believes the peak has passed.

READ MORE: One in 20 people who catch Covid suffer from long-term taste or smell issues

However, warnings persist that covid is not over and the Welsh Government is focusing on a number of key objectives moving forward. 

The objectives include protecting the vulnerable from severe disease by enabling access to vaccination, maintaining capacity to respond to localised outbreaks and in high-risk settings, retaining effective surveillance systems to identify any deterioration in the situation such as from harmful variants and mutations of concern and preparing for the possible resurgence of the virus.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: "In view of the latest evidence, including decreasing prevalence, from 1 August we will pause provision of free lateral flow tests to members of the public with symptoms of COVID-19.

"This is consistent with our long-term COVID-19 transition from pandemic to endemic for Wales, published in March.

"It also ensures we safeguard resources for potential future waves during autumn/winter that may, alongside colder weather and other respiratory viruses, provide additional challenges and risks."

READ MORE: Common Covid symptom could actually be early warning sign of deadly illness

Testing facilities will continue to be provided in certain circumstances, including:

  • Lateral flow and PCR testing for those eligible for COVID-19 treatments.
  • Lateral flow testing for people visiting those eligible for COVID-19 treatments.
  • Lateral flow testing for people visiting care homes.
  • PCR testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses for symptomatic care home residents and prisoners.
  • Lateral flow testing for symptomatic health and social care staff.
  • Lateral flow tests for regular asymptomatic testing for health and social care staff (This will be reviewed at lower prevalence).