The government has told schools to pause the daily coronavirus testing of students and staff in England, five weeks after it was announced as a “milestone moment” by the education secretary, Gavin Williamson.
Public Health England (PHE) said the balance of the risks and potential benefits of daily testing were now “unclear” after the emergence of the more transmissible variant of Covid-19.
Confirming the Guardian’s story from Tuesday that the rollout would be halted, PHE said: “In light of this changing situation, we now recommend that the rollout of daily contact testing within schools is paused, other than for schools involved in further evaluation.
“This will enable the further detailed evaluation of changing circumstances including, potentially, lower infection rates and modelling work required to understand the benefits of daily contact testing in this new phase of the pandemic.”
PHE said schools should continue to test staff twice weekly where possible, and test pupils twice upon return to school, as has been the case since the start of January.