Rishi Sunak gets Boris Johnson's backing over Covid testing cut as Britain is told to treat virus like flu

The PM has told Britain it's "time that we got our confidence back," as he scraps self-isolation rules

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The Prime Minister has backed Rishi Sunak in a clash with the Health Secretary over the ending of free Covid testing, among over Covid measures.

He told Britain it was "time that we got our confidence back."

All legal Covid measures will end in England on Thursday, with people no longer required to self-isolate after a positive test.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in Downing St, London.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in Downing St, London.

Most people will need to pay for a box of seven Covid tests from April 1. They will remain free to the very elderly and clinically vulnerable.

The Times reported that Mr Javid was arguing anyone over-50, that was symptomatic, should be able to get a free test.

This, he allegedly claimed, would help identify potential participants in an antiviral drugs trial.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the PM both rejected this proposal out of hand, instead saying the Department of Health must finance Covid plans from within its current budget, rather than with an extra £6bn from the Treasury, as Mr Javid had asked for.

The Health Secretary's push for mobile testing units and a test stockpile were also rejected. However Mr Javid claimed that funding this out of current Health Department funds would delay the social care plan by 12 months.

A testing solution dripping into a Covid 19 lateral flow testing strip.
A testing solution dripping into a Covid 19 lateral flow testing strip.

The PM's new Chief of Staff Steve Barclay held a meeting between the Health Secretary and Chancellor, to discuss the ending of Covid measures.

Only a small number of the Health Secretary's demands were met, with the most significant one's being rejected.

Asymptomatic testing of care home and NHS staff and well as a "minimum" level of surveillance testing.

This comes as people struggle to order lateral flow tests online amid a scramble for free kits while they are still available.

The number of free tests available each day will be capped to “manage demand” as the Government scales back free testing for people in England.

Tests ordered online are only available every three days, when previously people could order a new pack every 24 hours.

Boxes of NHS Covid-19 rapid antigen test (lateral flow self test) kits.
Boxes of NHS Covid-19 rapid antigen test (lateral flow self test) kits.

The public has been encouraged not to stockpile test packs but since the changes were announced the system has been overwhelmed with people trying to order tests.

This could include people who have Covid-19, or those who have been close contacts of confirmed cases.

A message on the Government testing portal states: "Sorry, there are no home delivery slots left for rapid lateral flow tests right now."

It is not the first time the system has been overwhelmed, with previous issues attributed to delivery constraints.

The UK Health Security Agency said that test availability is refreshed regularly so people are encouraged to re-visit the site every few hours as more will become available.