Confirmatory PCR tests will no longer be need for people testing positive for Covid on a lateral flow test, health chiefs confirmed today.

Previous guidance to back up positive rapid tests with more accurate lab results will be removed from January 11.

The UK Health Security Agency announced the move amid sky-high case numbers across England. 

The move will free up capacity in laboratories for PCR tests for those who have Covid symptoms.

People who receive a positive result on a lateral flow device (LFD) will be required to self-isolate immediately, without requiring PCR confirmation.

The UKHSA said it is a temporary measure while Covid rates remain high across the UK.

Officials said that while levels of Covid are high, the ‘vast majority’ of people with positive LFD results can be confident they have the virus.

People who have Covid symptoms should still get a PCR test, the UKHSA said.

Confirmatory PCR tests will no longer be need for people testing positive for Covid on a lateral flow test, the UK Health Security Agency confirmed today. Pictured: UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries

Confirmatory PCR tests will no longer be need for people testing positive for Covid on a lateral flow test, the UK Health Security Agency confirmed today. Pictured: UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries

Confirmatory PCR tests will no longer be need for people testing positive for Covid on a lateral flow test, the UK Health Security Agency confirmed today. Pictured: UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries

Businesses beg Boris to rethink self-isolation rules crippling UK with 1.3M stuck in house arrest 

Business chiefs today begged Boris Johnson to cut self-isolation as around 1.3million people languish under house arrest and rail services and bin collections grind to a halt. 

The PM is facing mounting pressure to trim the quarantine period again from seven days to five after he gathered his Cabinet ministers to sign off on sticking to ‘Plan B’ restrictions.

As Parliament returns from its Christmas break, Mr Johnson will face a PMQs grilling this afternoon before making a Covid statement to the House. 

Testing rules are set to be loosened in an effort to reduce the pressure on the system, with people who are positive on lateral flows spared having to do a confirmatory PCR.

Meanwhile, travel regulations are also due to be overhauled, axing the requirement for tests before arriving in the UK. 

However, the PM has up to now batted away calls for a change on self-isolation, voicing concern it could make the problems worse. 

Staff absences are threatening to cripple the country after infections hit another record daily high of 218,000 – meaning nearly 1.3million people have been positive in the past week.

Richard Walker, managing director of the Iceland supermarket chain, warned that although it is coping so far the absentee chart is now ‘almost vertical’ – with levels more than double the peak of the ‘Pingdemic’ last year. 

‘I think it is fair to say that business is under strain as never before. This new variant seems to be a lot more contagious and that is having a big impact,’ he told Sky News.

‘My call on government would be firstly to prioritise lateral flow tests for key workers including food retail front line shop workers, but also to revisit the onerous isolation rules.

‘Seven days is a long time for people who are triple jabbed when the symptoms are for the vast majority of people not more than a common cold or mild flu.’

<!—->

Advertisement

UKHSA Chief Executive Dr Jenny Harries 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.

‘It remains really important that anyone who experiences COVID-19 symptoms self-isolates immediately. They should also order a PCR test on gov.uk, or by phoning 119.

‘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.’

Health chiefs said the change would be kept in place until Covid prevalence dips below one per cent.

Prevalence last week was around four per cent according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey. 

Experts hailed the move as sensible given current case numbers, arguing PCR confirmations ‘waste time’ during infection surges.

SAGE member John Edmunds, a modeller at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: ‘This change makes a lot of sense. 

‘When the prevalence is high — and it is incredibly high at the moment — almost everyone who tests positive with a lateral flow test will be a true positive. 

‘There is really no need to confirm this with a PCR, a step that not only wastes time but costs a lot of money and uses up laboratory resources that could be better used elsewhere. There are down sides to this change. 

‘We would have slightly less information on the relative prevalence of the different variants circulating in the community, as PCR swabs undergo genotyping and sequencing, and the daily number of confirmed cases may need more careful interpretation. 

‘Overall, though, I think that these downsides are worth it.’

Sir David Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘This seems a sensible move. 

‘We argued back in October that it seemed fairly pointless to do a confirmatory PCR after a positive lateral flow test.

‘This is even more true now: with current infection rates, a positive LFD followed by a negative PCR would still mean it was very likely that you were carrying the virus. 

‘PCRs are useful for surveillance, sequencing and have legal status, but if we want to focus on isolating people who are infectious, then LFDs may be adequate. But they need to be reported.’

Source: Daily Mail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Man ‘drives car off Grand Canyon’s 4,000-foot high rim in apparent suicide’

A MAN has driven his car off the Grand Canyon’s 4,000-foot high…

Jadon Sancho speaks out about racist abuse sent to him, Rashford and Saka after Euro 2020

Jadon Sancho has insisted ‘we need to do better as a society’…

The Left Wants the Pandemic While America Is Over It

Escapism is important in our society, and in this day and age,…

New Year’s Rose Parade proceeds despite COVID-19 surge

PASADENA, Calif. — A year after New Year’s Day passed without a…