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Should we keep rapid lateral flow testing free

PEOPLE in England currently have free access regular rapid lateral flow testing, but with more than ₤1 billion have been spent on purchasing lateral flow tests, can we afford to keep them free? But with the withdrawal of universal free lateral flow tests would be "utterly reckless." This question follows reports published within the Sunday Times that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Government plans, if true could save billions as Ministers expect 6 more years of virus, but if testing stops being free, situation may deteriorate even further. This latest issue over confusion over yet more rhetoric could lead to lives are being put at risk. Yet in the absence of additional information or clarity from Downing Street is puzzling many. This confusion also is added to by a statement by the Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, who says there will be no end to free lateral flow tests within England, as testing is helping to deal with Omicron cases. But if the Government's figures are correct, the number of cases confirmed over the past seven days is 13% down on the previous week. However, the national figure are masks what is happening regionally and between the different Nations within the UK, and Regions. we are being told that some leading healthcare experts have expressed concern that the levelling off could be short lived and their is again a growing fear that the infections could yet again spread to older people, who are most at risk of serious illness. So far NHS bosses have reported that outbreaks within care homes have not led to any significant numbers of residents becoming seriously ill and boosters seem to have had the desired effect. We asked our Twitter Followers on our Formby Reporter account was asked:- "Should we keep the Tests free?" The response was:-

5.3% said:- "Only to healthcare works."

73.7% said:- "Yes, to all."

15.8% said:- "No."

5.3% said:- "Don't know."

So, what are your thoughts on this issue? Please do drop us an email to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com and let us know your thoughts.

Merseyrail timetable amendments due to Covid19 impact on staffing levels

THE local rail operator Merseyrail has announced changes to its services due to the impact of the Omicron Covid19 variant, which has led to an increase in staff being absent. Services on all lines on the Merseyrail network will change to a 30 minute service from 17 January 2022, until further notice. It is hoped that by taking these measures that the operator will be able to avoid last minute cancellations and give passengers time to adjust their travel plans where needed. Prior to this, between 10 and 16 January, there will be pre-planned cancellations in place on the Merseyrail network. Further information on these can be found on the Merseyrail website.

Andy Heath, Managing Director at Merseyrail, said:- "Our staff have worked tirelessly throughout the Pandemic to ensure that we can provide a safe and reliable service to the people of the Liverpool City Region. However, as is the case on other parts of the UK rail network, the Omicron variant has significantly increased the number of front line staff being absent from work. This means that we need to reduce the number of trains we run to ensure that our services remain reliable. I would advise all customers to check our website and social media feeds before they travel, and we will continue to work hard to provide the best service that we can."

Merseyrail customers are reminded that the wearing of face coverings on public transport is mandatory unless exempt, and we encourage everyone to follow the below guidance to keep both themselves and others safe:-

Avoid peak travel if you can (between:- 7:00am to 9:30am and 16:00 to 18:30)

Allow extra time for your journey.

To protect yourself and others, you must wear a face covering unless exempt. Fines may apply. All customers travelling on Merseyrail must wear a face covering both within our stations and on our trains.

Use contactless payments where possible.

Wash or sanitise hands as soon as possible before and after travel.

Follow advice from staff and be considerate to other passengers.

Do not use public transport if you have Covid19 symptoms or you have been instructed to self isolate.

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