Ending free testing ‘like putting Covid-19 on autopilot without a map’, Mayor warns

The Prime Minister’s decision to scrap free Covid-19 testing is wrong and unsupported by the science or medical professionals.

In Hackney, our priority will remain – as it has throughout the pandemic – on keeping our residents and staff safe, and that won’t change because of this announcement. We are deeply concerned about the timing and data behind today’s statement, and we will study the detailed guidance when we receive it.

Covid-19 remains a serious disease that can leave people with long-term complications, and case rates in Hackney remain exceptionally high. We can’t simply wish this disease away, as much as we’d like to.

It remains a particularly risky infection for people who are unvaccinated, and in Hackney, only 46% of residents 16+ have received their booster dose. We also have a greater proportion of residents who can not afford to pay for a test and who work in informal, insecure jobs where they may feel pressured not to self-isolate voluntarily.

We’ve built an excellent system of testing that allows us to track the disease, ensure those infected stay at home and protect those that are vulnerable. It also gives us crucial data to analyse and respond to new variants of this unpredictable coronavirus. 

Dismantling that system now is like putting Covid-19 on autopilot without a map. It’s a premature step that may make it harder to live with Covid, not easier.

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