Sajid Javid tells Nicola Sturgeon Scotland will have to pay for Covid tests as Boris Johnson scraps free testing in England

The Scottish First Minister tells Holyrood: "I've got to be frank with people, we are still in a pandemic"

Published

Scotland will have to pay for their own Covid testing, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said, as Boris Johnson scraps free universal testing in England.

Mr Johnson announced yesterday that all legal Covid restrictions are to be removed.

This includes the legal requirement to isolate after testing positive for the virus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced her government intends to retain free Covid tests, but has said previously that she will need clarity on how these will be funded.

“If Scotland chooses to take a different route now when it comes to testing that of course is a decision for Scotland, Sajid Javid told BBC Radio 4.

"Health is a devolved matter. They would pay for it in the same way that we pay for decisions in England.

"Scotland is to receive hundreds and millions of extra funding via the new Health and Social Care levy."

Ms Sturgeon said: "There will be a lot of optimism around what I set out tomorrow, but I’ve got to be frank with people, we are still in a pandemic of this virus.

"We know from past experience that new variants, for example, can come about and cause new challenges.

"So, we need to be vigilant about that and we need to be prepared about that, but we also need to manage that risk in a much less restrictive and more sustainable way for the future, so that we can all get back to normal, retain that sense of normality, even as we maintain that sense of vigilance."

Ms Sturgeon used her speech to reaffirm her devolved administration's commitment to testing.

"Testing has been - and will continue to be - a vital part of our management of Covid," she added.

"However, as the nature of the threat and our approach to managing it evolves, so too will our testing approach. It is reasonable, over time and barring adverse developments, to move away from mass, population wide, asymptomatic testing, towards a more targeted system focused on specific priorities.

"These priorities will include surveillance; rapid detection of and response to new variants; effective outbreak management, particularly in high risk settings like care homes and hospitals; and ensuring access to care and treatment for those who need it.

"However, it is important that we make this transition in a careful, phased manner."