Mark Drakeford slams Boris Johnson’s ‘premature and reckless’ plan to scrap free UK Covid testing
Mark Drakeford has slammed Boris Johnson’s “premature and reckless” plan to end free Covid testing across the UK.
The Prime Minister is expected to announce this afternoon that free testing will come to an end as part of a raft of measures to end Covid measures in England.
The UK Government also distributes tests to other parts of the UK and any steps to scale back Covid measures in England will have financial implications for the Welsh Government, which receives its population share of any Treasury spending.
“Any decision to change the existing National Testing Programme would be premature and reckless,” Mark Drakeford said.
“Testing has played a pivotal role in breaking chains of transmission and as a surveillance tool helping us detect and respond to emerging variants. It’s essential that this continues.
“Any decision to effectively turn off the tap on our National Testing Programme, with no future plans in place to reactivate it, would put people at risk.
“In Wales, we’ll continue to make decisions to protect the health of people based on the scientific evidence available to us.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also expressed concern over the plans.
“The reality of UK finance flows means this decision determines the money devolved administrations (paid for by taxpayers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have for testing,” she said.
Boris Johnson is due to update MPs on his plan for easing Covid measures in England this afternoon before leading a Downing Street press conference.
However, a Cabinet meeting at midday to sign off the plan was delayed after reported tensions between the Health Secretary Sajid Javid and the Treasury led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
It was briefed last night that self-isolation laws in England could be scrapped as early as Thursday, which would be the first time people with the virus are not legally obliged to stay home in nearly two years.
In Wales and Scotland restrictions are expected to stay in place until at least the end of March, but the financial implications of ending measures in England may force the hands of the governments there.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.