Robust testing regime needed to avoid hard lockdowns, says Tom Watson
Former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has urged the government not to scrap lateral flow Covid testing for those travelling to the UK.
Watson, now chair of the Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation (LTIO), said: “The only way our country can avoid hard lockdowns is by maintaining a robust Covid testing regime. As the health secretary has said, ‘The vaccine programme, testing programme and surveillance programme are all part of our wall of defence.”
“We have consistently backed relaxing unnecessary restrictions but believe removing testing completely for international travel would weaken those defences. Lateral flow tests are a low-cost way to ensure we are able to detect new variants.
“Testing is the antidote to lockdowns.”
It follows the UK government’s decision to potentially remove all testing for fully vaccinated travellers to the UK in time for the February half-term.
“We are looking at removing all Covid tests for vaccinated travellers by the end of January, which is likely to coincide with the review of the plan B measures on January 26,” a source told the Times on Saturday.
On 26 January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to remove all Plan B restrictions – including the working from home order and the need to wear a face mask in shops and on public transport – following a decline in Covid cases and hospitalisations.
Ministers are also expected to soon change the definition of fully vaccinated to include the booster dose, City A.M. reported.