All English households with school children offered twice weekly COVID tests

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Newcastle-under-Lyme

LONDON (Reuters) - All households in England with school or college aged children will be offered two rapid COVID-19 tests per person per week to support the government’s priority to get young people back in the classroom, the health ministry said on Sunday.

Last week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a phased plan to end England's latest COVID-19 lockdown, offering a "cautious" approach to try to prevent a return to wholesale restrictions that have hobbled the economy.

He said the first stage would prioritise schools returning on March 8 when only minimal socialising outdoors would be allowed.

The health ministry said rapid test kits would be made available to collect from Monday at more than 500 locations, or through workplace testing and local community testing services.

Secondary school and college students will be tested twice a week, receiving initial tests at school or college before moving to home testing.

Primary school children without symptoms will not be tested at school but parents will be encouraged to test their children at home.

“We know that one in three people with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms, so targeted, regular testing will mean more positive cases are kept out of schools and colleges,” said health minister Matt Hancock.

The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England is falling, with 1 in 145 people infected in the week ending Feb 19, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Christina Fincher)