The University has stopped providing free test kits from February 18 2022. At the same time, the government announced that the kits will no longer be free from April 1. However, both of these policies have been criticised heavily.
The University announced on February 16 that from February 18, they would no longer be providing free lateral flow kits. They say that this decision has been made by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as they ended their agreement with the University to provide the kits. The University still urges those who have kits to test twice a week before coming to campus. However, they acknowledge that this would be difficult for many.
Students are concerned by this decision with one explaining, “I was using the free testing kits from the University for my own safety.” A Medicine student stated, “I commute from home and live with my parents. Having those free test kits were the way to ensure that everyone in my family is safe.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that as of April 1, the Lateral Flow Test kits will no longer be free. There will be a £2-£5 cost added to each test. In total, a kit of 7 tests that is currently free now, will cost £20 from April 1. This announcement came along with one that decided that from February 24, self-isolation will no longer be required for anyone who test positive. People under 18 and vaccinated contacts of positive cases will not be required to test for a week. Close contacts who are unvaccinated will not be required to self-isolate. Moreover, the £500 payment being provided to self-isolating people will also be stopped.
However, critics have been vocal on the issue. Doctors have criticised this move saying that Johnson is pretending as if Covid does not exist anymore. Meanwhile SAGE member Professor Robert West believes they are “abdicating its own responsibility for looking after its population.”
Writers from The Mirror believe that this is going to add to the cost of living problem that already exists in the UK currently. However, Johnson defended the policy change stating to the House of Commons that his move is to “learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves and others without restricting freedoms.” Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, refuted these claims going against Johnson, arguing “This wasn’t a plan for living with Covid. It was a plan for ignoring it.”
Students echo Keir Starmer’s comments, saying “Johnson is trying to act like Covid doesn’t exist anymore, and does not care about who it affects”. A second-year Creative Writing student believes that “It is dangerous and directly challenging to the most vulnerable.”
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