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Sajid Javid insisted it was important to “focus resources” in England on those most needing tests.
He said: “We are one of the most open and free countries in the world now… and it is right also as we learn to live with Covid that we withdraw free testing.”
Carers UK and the Alzheimer’s Society are among those who have slammed the move.
James White, head of Alzheimer’s Society campaigns, said everyone visiting vulnerable people should get free tests.
He added: “Cases have soared, so scrapping isolation rules and free tests is a dangerous gamble.”
Hospital admissions in England stand at 2,050 per day, the highest since February 2021, but as of Wednesday there were just 318 people on a mechanical ventilator.
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