Covid test centres across Norfolk and Waveney set to close
- Credit: PA
All of Norfolk and Waveney's coronavirus testing sites are set to close as part of the government's living with Covid plan.
The region's testing centres which includes Westwick Street and Postwick Park and Ride in Norwich, King's Lynn, Thetford, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft will shut from the end of Thursday, March 31.
The government confirmed that all testing sites across the United Kingdom will stop operations once free testing for the general public ends by the end of March 31.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said testing has come at a “significant cost” to the taxpayer, with the testing, tracing and isolation budget costing more than £15.7 billion in 2021 and 2022.
But it said it will retain the ability to ramp up testing if needed, including keeping a stockpile of lateral flow tests.
A spokesman for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said: "We'd once again like to thank staff for their hard work and for playing such a vital role in our pandemic response.
"The government has retained the ability to enable a rapid testing response should it be needed, such as the emergence of a new variant of concern."
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In a statement, health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed three groups of people will continue to get free tests if they have symptoms of the virus.
Mr Javid said: “Thanks to our plan to tackle Covid we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus.
"We have made enormous progress but will keep the ability to respond to future threats including potential variants."
People with a cold will be urged to "stay home and avoid contact" under new guidance as free testing for the general public ends.
Free tests will still be available to some NHS, social care and hospice staff without symptoms of Covid when rates of the virus are high.
But routine tests for care home and hospice residents will no longer continue and will only be provided in the event of an outbreak or a resident being admitted.