Community pharmacists in England will continue to receive free Covid tests, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed.

After tomorrow, free testing will stop for the general population but will continue for patient-facing staff.

In a statement issued yesterday, health secretary Sajid Javid said both LFTs and PCR testing will continue to be free for NHS workers. This includes community pharmacists, as later confirmed by the DHSC to The Pharmacist.

Symptomatic free testing will continue to be available for vulnerable patients who are currently eligible for treatments.

The DHSC also announced that updated guidance on ‘Living with Covid’ will be published on 1 April, which will treat Covid ‘like other respiratory illnesses’.

It claimed that while Covid 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’.

Under the new plans, symptomatic PCR tests will continue to be available for hospital patients, clinically vulnerable patients who are eligible for treatment and people working in high-risk settings, including NHS and social care staff.

LFTs will be available for patient-facing health and social care staff, and staff in prisons and immigration centres.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) welcomed the announcement and said she was 'pleased to hear' that pharmacy teams are included on the list of healthcare professionals receiving LFTs.

'Pharmacy teams continue to be in the front line looking after patients face to face and it only makes sense that they have access to LFTs free of charge,' she added.

Last week, The Pharmacist reported that there had been a dramatic increase in Covid cases in the past according to data collected through the ZOE app.

Meanwhile, around 600,000 over-75s, care home residents and those over 12 who are immunosuppressed were invited to book a Covid booster last week.