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Rutland's covid cases are increasing as the end of free testing approaches

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A public health director believes personal responsibility will be more important than ever as free universal covid testing is scrapped.

From next Friday (April 1) a limited number of people will have access to free lateral flow tests as the government pushes ahead with its ‘living with covid’ plan.

The move comes as Rutland faces rising covid figures.

Mike Sandys
Mike Sandys

On Tuesday the county recorded 832 cases per 100,000 people. The highest rate before that was during an outbreak at Stocken Prison when the rate was around 600 cases per 100,000.

Throughout the pandemic testing, vaccinations and personal responsibility have been a priority.

Rutland’s director of public health Mike Sandys, says the end of free testing makes the other areas more important.

He said: “The removal of free testing worries me more than the easing of covid restrictions.

“What worries me most is the lack of surveillance and data. If people stop testing, we have no way of knowing what’s going on and that takes us back to March 2020 when the first we knew was when people in care homes began dying in huge numbers.”

The government will continue to provide free tests for a limited number of people.

The details Mike has received so far suggest the scheme will include some people who are most at risk of serious illness from Covid-19, some hospital patients and people working in high-risk close settings.

Carers who look after people in their own home and visitors to care homes are not expected to be eligible for free testing.

He thinks it is likely that many people who might expect to be included which actually miss out.

Mike added: “People need to remember there is a lot of covid still out there. Personally I know more people who have tested positive in the last few weeks than at any other stage of the pandemic.

“We’ve had a really rapid increase in cases and the published figures are likely to be just a fraction of what’s out there.

“We need to get back to a path of being sensible to limit the spread.”

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