SEVERAL key parts of the response to coronavirus in the months ahead remain unknown or undecided, according to Dorset's director of public health.

Free lateral flow and PCR Covid testing for the majority of people is set to come to a halt at the end of this month.

Sam Crowe, director of public health for Dorset and BCP Councils, has said questions remain unanswered over the delivery of testing regimes from April.

Speaking at BCP Council's health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee on Monday, Mr Crowe said: "With universal PCR testing ending on April 1, one of the key issues that we need to understand still is the national clarification of how we would access testing if needed, should we be in a situation that starts to deteriorate locally."

Bournemouth Echo: Free Covid PCR testing for most people is due to come to an endFree Covid PCR testing for most people is due to come to an end

Public Health Dorset told the Daily Echo testing and the allocation of PCR test sites was overseen by the Department of Health and Social Care.

BCP Council previously said the Creekmoor Park and Ride site in Poole would operate as a testing facility until at least March 31. No indication has been given on if this will be extended.

The Daily Echo approached the Department of Health and Social Care, but did not receive a response.

Mr Crowe told the committee Dorset's targeted community testing programme would also be stopped from the end of this month, in line with Government direction.

Bournemouth Echo: Sam CroweSam Crowe

He said: "This is the programme that has been contracted out through our partners Showsec and has offered access to lateral flow testing for groups who may have found it difficult to access those tests from the other channels, like pharmacy or national online supply.

"We will retain a limited supply of lateral flow tests, really to be held back in support should we need to be investigating outbreaks or clusters or networks linked with positive cases and higher risk settings."

Mr Crowe said the reliance on infection rates from Covid testing had shifted to monthly Office of National Statistics data as fewer people were getting tested or reporting results since the change in Government guidance.

On the delivery of the vaccine programme, Mr Crowe said: "The focus locally is now understanding how to shift from almost an emergency model of vaccination to something that is more sustainable.

"Our partners Dorset HealthCare are actively looking at how we build a more sustainable model going forwards and we are awaiting more information about vaccines that will be available in the autumn.

"At the moment I think it is still undecided exactly how that will come out. Whether it is another autumn booster or whether there will be newer vaccines that offer perhaps longer term protection."