Boris Johnson rolls back COVID-19 testing requirements amid omicron surge

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said England will not impose another lockdown and the country will ease COVID-19 testing requirements temporarily as cases reach record levels.

Johnson announced that starting 4 a.m. on Friday, pre-departure tests will no longer be required for passengers arriving in the country, according to The Guardian.

The prime minister said such travelers will not need to isolate until they get a negative PCR test, per the outlet. Instead, he said they must take a lateral flow test within two days and take a PCR test and isolate only if the rapid test is positive.

Johnson’s comments come as the U.K. Health Ministry on Wednesday announced that it will no longer require people in England who test positive using a rapid flow test to reconfirm the result with a PCR test if they are asymptomatic from Jan. 11.

Johnson said in a speech to the U.K. House of Commons that because of the “sheer size” of the omicron wave, the government needed to take steps to ensure testing capacity “reaches those who need it most”.

He also re-shared the new testing advisory from the health ministry.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Johnson said the country was “in a very different position than during previous waves.”

However, he added that COVID-19 measures will remain in place in the country. He confirmed that, as he announced Tuesday, the U.K. government will stick to the “plan B” measures imposed last month, including a mask mandate on public transport and testing requirements for some large gatherings.

He also said U.K. residents should take a COVID-19 test before going to high-risk settings or meeting the elderly or vulnerable.

“I know some [Members of Parliament] might therefore ask whether this means we can now do away with measures altogether, but I’m sorry to report that hospital admissions are rising rapidly, doubling around every nine days, with already more than 15,000 COVID patients in hospital in England alone,” he said.

Tags Boris Johnson British Parliament COVID-19 covid-19 restrictions COVID-19 variants House of Commons Omicron variant travel restrictions United Kingdom
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