Changes to the rules surrounding lateral flow and PCR Covid tests are set to be announced, according to reports.

People who test positive after testing themselves with a lateral flow kit will reportedly no longer need to follow-up with a PCR test to make sure.

Those who test positive will instead be told to self-isolate for a week – and self-isolation will end if they test positive on days six and seven.

A Whitehall source told The Sun newspaper: “The overwhelming likelihood is that if you have a positive lateral flow, then you are infectious.

“So there is no need for an extra PCR check when testing is already under huge strain.”

Shortage of Covid tests in the UK

It comes after a shortage of Covid tests in the UK as cases surge and staff shortages cause chaos across the country.

NHS North West regional medical director Dr David Levy told the BBC hospitals were under pressure across the entire region due to the volume of Covid patients and isolating staff, adding frontline workers were under “fairly intense pressure at the moment”.

Headteachers were told to order lateral flow tests by 5pm on Tuesday to avoid a two-week wait for their arrival.

The Welsh Government came to the aid of Westminster last week by loaning England four million lateral flow tests, as ministers scramble to secure supplies from around the world.

Mr Johnson accepted the weeks ahead are going to be “challenging” and said “some services will be disrupted by staff absences” as he pledged to “fortify” the NHS to withstand the pressures and protect supply chains.

What Government said about new testing rules

Government sources did not deny reports suggesting Covid-19 testing rules will be relaxed to reduce absences, though the timing of the announcement was unclear.

The Telegraph said a change so that millions who test positive in lateral flow tests will not need a confirmatory PCR could come on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Downing Street addressed the idea of rationing Covid tests.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: "We have one of the highest testing capacities in the world, certainly the highest in Europe.

"We would obviously need to keep under review, as prevalence is incredibly high, what the right approach might be and we continue to take advice on whether that is necessary.

"As it stands, we're massively increasing capacity for both PCR and LFT (lateral flow) tests - that's doubled to 900,000 tests available per day and we want to go further and increase that.

"We're doing, I think, roughly around 1.5 million tests across the system each day, which, as I say, is the largest in the world, so there is testing capacity available for those who need it, but we will keep that under review, depending on how prevalence tracks over the coming weeks."