ALL Covid-19 testing testing facilities across the borough will close at the end of this week – in keeping with the policy across the rest of England.

Health chiefs say this means the Local Testing Station (LTS) which has been located on Fairclough Street, Earlestown for the past 18 months will not carry out any testing after Wednesday, March 30.

The Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) based at Birchley Street car park in St Helens town centre will also cease to operate after March 30.

Test kits are still available subject to availability at all leisure centres and libraries in the borough up until and including Thursday, March 31.

Covid rates are currently high locally, but St Helens health bosses say this change to test kit availability is in line with the change to testing guidance issued in February 2022 under the government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan.

Free lateral flow tests (LFTs) won't be available after April 1, except for the over-75s and over-12s with weakened immune systems, social care workers and NHS staff.

Everyone else will have to buy a test from pharmacists or other retailers.

Further details of all of the ‘at risk’ groups that can still get free tests will be announced by the government shortly.

Ruth du Plessis, director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: "The guidance to isolate remains; you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) or if you have tested positive for Covid-19.

"I would also encourage anyone who has still not had a Covid-19 vaccination or booster jabs to do so to help protect yourself and others.

"Vaccination is preventing people developing serious illness and keeping people out of hospital, so it is vital that we continue to get protected.

"Vaccination sites remain open for business in the borough.

"If you are over 75 years old or immunocompromised or live in a care home, you will soon be receiving an invitation from the NHS to have your spring booster jab so please book an appointment when you receive this offer.

"Many people in this group have reduced immunity so it is important to top up your protection against the virus.”

Further information and updates on Covid testing, including how those at high risk from Covid will be able to get free NHS tests, can be found on the government website: /testing/get-tested-for-coronavirus/

Further information on booster vaccines can be found on the NHS website: /coronavirus-vaccination/how-to-get-a-coronavirus-vaccine/how-to-get-a-booster-dose/