Everyone in England will be eligible for free rapid Covid-19 tests from today, the Government has announced.

Anyone will be able to access lateral flow tests for themselves and their families to use twice a week, in line with clinical guidance.

Rapid tests give results in under 30 minutes and Brits are encouraged to take them as part of a regular testing system brought in to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

In particular, they are effective in spotting people who have no symptoms but could still spread the virus.

The Government said regular testing will help everyone get back to normal life as infected people can be identified more efficiently even if they do not develop a cough, temperature or lose their sense of smell and taste.

Matt Hancock said regular testing will help everyone return to normal life
(Image: PA)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Around one in three people have coronavirus without any symptoms, so getting tested regularly is one of the simplest and easiest ways we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

“I’d encourage everyone to take up the offer and test twice a week.

“Alongside the successful rollout of the vaccination programme, rapid testing will be one of our most effective weapons in tackling this virus and ensuring we can cautiously reopen our economy and parts of society that we have all missed.

“The British people have made a tremendous effort throughout the pandemic and I am confident they will do the same now by taking up this offer of free, rapid tests.”

Lateral flow test give results in under 30 minutes
Lateral flow test give results in under 30 minutes
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

From Sunday, April 11, the Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air campaign will be updated to remind the public of the need to use the NHS Covid-19 app to check in to premises including outdoor hospitality, hairdressers and gyms.

App users who visited a venue where multiple people tested positive for the virus will be then encouraged to book a test.

TV doctor and practising NHS GP, Dr Zoe Williams said: “Twice weekly testing will be crucial in helping us manage the spread of the virus as society starts to reopen.

Rapid tests can be delivered at home
Rapid tests can be delivered at home
(Image: Getty Images)

“The tests are quick and easy to do, and results come back in 30 minutes.

“Key workers such as myself and my colleagues have been carrying these out for the last few months, and it’s amazing how quickly they have become second nature to us.

“However, it’s important to remember that there is not one silver bullet in the fight against Covid-19, and even with a negative test result, we must still follow social distancing guidelines – hands, face, space, fresh air, and go for our vaccines when called.”

Recent analysis from NHS Test and Trace shows that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is fewer than one false positive result.

How can I order a free test for me and my family?

Rapid tests can be delivered through a home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home by visiting. To do so, visit nhs.uk/get-tested.

Tests can also be delivered through workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home community testing.

If testing at home, individuals will need to register their results online or by calling 119.

They should self-isolate if they get a positive result and order a confirmatory PCR test.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms should still book a PCR test online or by calling 119.

Also, from April 12 people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will be able to get a PCR test during their 10-day self-isolation period, whether or not they have symptoms.

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