Free Covid testing has come to an end for most people from today, 1 April, as the next stage of the Government’s ‘Living With Covid’ plan comes into play.
It means that the majority of people who wish to test for Covid will have to purchase a test kit, rather than ordering them free-of-charge from the Government.
Lateral flows can be bought from major pharmacies like Boots (£2 per test), Superdrug (£1.99), and Lloyds (£1.89), as well as supermarket pharmacies like Tesco (£2) and Morrisons (£1.79).
Free PCR tests for those with symptoms will also be scrapped for most of us.
There are some exceptions, and some people will still be able to access free testing, most of whom will be those who work in high-risk settings where ‘infection can spread rapidly’.
The rest of us are now advised to ‘try stay at home and avoid contact with other people’ if we have any symptoms of respiratory infection, such as a high temperature, the Government’s official guidance states.
Patient-facing staff who work in the NHS or NHS-commissioned providers, in hospices, in adult social care services (such as care homes), in some prisons and places of detention, in high-risk domestic abuse refuges, and in homeless settings can continue to access asymptomatic lateral flow testing.
Meanwhile PCR tests will be provided to patients in hospital where it’s required for their care, for people who are at higher risk of serious illness with Covid and are eligible for treatments, and for people living or working in some high-risk settings.
The updated guidance states: “Although COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations have risen in recent weeks, over 55% of those in hospital that have tested positive are not there with COVID-19 as their primary diagnosis.”
It also stressed the huge cost of testing – some £15.7 billion in 2021-22.
The latest information continues: “Thanks to the success of the vaccination programme and access to antivirals, alongside natural immunity and increased scientific and public understanding about how to manage risk, the population now has much stronger protection against COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic.
“This is enabling the country to begin to manage the virus like other respiratory infections.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our plan to tackle Covid we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus. We have made enormous progress but will keep the ability to respond to future threats including potential variants.
“Vaccines remain our best defence and we are now offering spring boosters to the elderly, care home residents and the most vulnerable – please come forward to protect yourself, your family, and your community.”
Featured image: Unsplash, Annie Spratt
Northern Monk is giving away free pints at three venues in Manchester tomorrow
In celebration of their ‘new look’, beloved Leeds-based brewery Northern Monk are giving away free pints of their iconic pale ale across various locations tomorrow, including right here in Greater Manchester.
So much for ‘it’s grim up North’ — don’t think so, mate.
The legendary independent brewery, based in the Yorkshire town of Holbeck, has been serving up its iconic beers across the North since 2013 and you don’t have to go far to find some of their creations on tap around here either.
Their most famous pale ale ‘Faith’ is now arguably the best core pale ale in the country and is the cornerstone of their lineup that helped make them a household name that we all know and love. Better still, you can get your hands on a few free ones this Wednesday (20 February).
As per The Hoot, the brewery has recently been developing a ‘new look’, changing their logo and re-branding ahead of the ‘the next chapter for Northern Monk’.
Whilst still undoubtedly recognisable, they’ve had a bit of a refresh — much like their pints (wahey!) — and we’ve got to say they’re looking very smart indeed.
So, in celebration of this, they’re feeling rather generous and are giving away a total of 1200 free pints of Faith across 12 different venues in the UK tomorrow.
Available from 5pm onwards and for one day only, we know where we’ll be heading after work.
Some sage advice for people looking to enjoy the freebies there, as well.
Yes, it’s as simple as that: head to any of the venues from 5pm on Wednesday, 21 February and there’ll be a whopping 100 pints of Northern Monk in each ready to be handed over to you lovely lot.
It’s strictly one per customer but you’ll hear no complaints from us — a free pint is a free pint.
The Manchester venues areas follows:
Northern Monk Refectory, Tariff Street – Northern Quarter
Trof, Thomas St – Also NQ
Folk, Burton Road – West Didsbury
Announcing the news to social media, Northern Monk said: “Times they are a-changin’… As we enter our 11th year, we’re embarking on the next chapter of Northern Monk. You’ll see some changes unfold in the coming months; join us as we begin to turn the pages.” We’ll cheers to that.
Michael J Fox brings viewers to tears with surprise appearance and standing ovation at the BAFTAs
Retired actor turned activist Michael J Fox made a surprise appearance at the BAFTAs on Sunday night, bringing everyone in the audience to their feet and many of those watching on TV to tears as he arrived on stage to present an award.
The 62-year-old Canadian-American is best known for his iconic role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future films and as a child actor before that on the US sitcom, Family Ties, but since retiring as a result of Parkinson’s disease he has gone on to become a huge campaigner for the condition.
Being introduced by fellow performer and the host of 2024 BAFTAs David Tennant as not only a star of the 1980s but having raised over £2 billion for the neurodegenerative disorder through his charitable foundation in his name, he appeared on stage to rapturous cheers before rising from his wheelchair.
Receiving a standing ovation as he made his way to the podium to present the award for Best Film, which went to Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, the surprise moved countless viewers tuning in back home to tears as he delivered a short but touching speech before handing out the familiar bronze trophy.
He also delighted fans when he was pictured walking the red carpet with his wife before the presentation.
Michael J Fox was sadly diagnosed with Parkinson‘s back in 1991 when he was just 29 years old and became one of the first big names in the public eye to begin trying to raise money for the condition, not only revealing it to the world but setting up his self-titled non-profit organisation in the same year.
As it is a progressive disorder that can even cause added complications to shorten a person’s lifespan, the severity of his tremors and loss of motor control has naturally worsened over time, which ultimately caused him to retire from acting in 2021.
However, before then and many years into his diagnosis, he still made brilliant appearances in the likes of medical comedy Scrubs, starred in his own self-titled show and has made several special returning cameos alongside the legendary Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Marty from Back to the Future.
He even enjoyed one of the most wonderful roles in Curb Your Enthusiasm where he tried to make light of his condition to hilarious effect. Simply brilliant.
Most recently, Fox released his own documentary film on Apple TV entitled, STILL, which looks back at his career, what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s disease and the vital work he has done through his charitable foundation to improve treatment and help find a cure.
It was nominated for numerous different awards of its own and won the Outstanding Picture, Director and Editing Awards at the Emmys in 2023. So well deserved — you should seriously watch it.
As for his speech before handing out this year’s BAFTA for Best Film himself, he said: “No matter who you are or where you’re from, films can bring us together. There’s a reason why they say movies are magic because they can change your day. It can change your outlook. Sometimes it can even change your life.”
The moment has been watched millions of times online already, leaving “not a dry eye in the house” and social media labelling him everything from an “inspiration” and “every bit the hero I remember him to be“, to being simply dubbed an “absolute legend”. We couldn’t agree anymore.
Michael J Fox made a very moving, surprise appearance at the Baftas…
..presenting the Best Film Award.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the 1990’s.