HEREFORD'S Covid testing site will close today as the Government ends free mass testing, Herefordshire Council has confirmed.

A spokesperson said the site at Merton Meadow car park, near Hereford FC's Edgar Street ground, would close on Wednesday "in line with government guidelines".

Those plans put forward by ministers show most people who want to be tested for Covid-19 will have to pay for tests once the universal testing programme ends on Friday.

Buildings to remain until June

Speaking about the Merton Meadow car park site, first set up as a mobile unit in April 2020 with help from the Army, Herefordshire Council said buildings would remain in place until June.

It is not yet known what the site will be after the buildings have been taken away.

"The Covid testing site on the land adjacent to Merton Meadow car park will close on March 30 in line with government guidelines," a spokesperson said.

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"As part of its national demobilisation programme, UK Health Security Agency plan to start the process of removing all infrastructure from the site in the week beginning June 13, 2022.

"The council is considering options about future use for the site."

In April 2020, an Army spokesperson said: “These units, operated by personnel from all three services, are deploying across the UK with soldiers taking swabs from key workers, including NHS and care home staff. A mobile testing unit is currently in Hereford at Merton Meadow car park. 

"The units have been designed to clinical requirements by Army engineers and can be easily set up in under 20 minutes. The new mobile units will work alongside the drive-through test sites to rapidly increase the number of tests completed each day.”

In May 2021, Herefordshire Council said a "more permanent" testing centre was being built, which saw gazebos replaced with Portakabins.

Who will still get free tests?

The Government has announced who will be eligible for free tests when free universal testing in England ends on Friday.

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People who are eligible for free tests in England include:

  • Hospital patients who have symptoms of Covid. These patients will be given lab tests in hospital where it is required for their care or to support ongoing surveillance of the virus.
  • People who are at risk of severe Covid-19 who have symptoms. These people might be eligible for Covid-19 treatments which help alleviate their symptoms. People in this group will be sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms.
  • Some workers or residents of “high risk settings” who have symptoms. This includes some care home and hospice staff and residents, NHS workers and prison staff. People will also be tested before being discharged from hospital into care homes, hospices, homelessness settings and domestic abuse refuges.
  • Some NHS and social care staff will continue to get free tests when they don’t have symptoms when there are high rates of infection in the community.

But the Department for Health and Social Care said that most visitors to adult social care settings, and visitors to the NHS, prisons or places of detention will no longer be required to take a test.

Health leaders welcomed the news that staff would not be required to pay for tests while there are high levels of the virus in the community.