The US has restarted its free at-home Covid-19 testing service, as the government attempts to limit the spread of the virus over the winter months.
Covid hospitalisations have been increasing in the last few weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The tests will be able to detect a new strain of the virus, which has now been reported in several US states.
People will be able to request four free rapid antigen tests.
The government website to request Covid tests was launched in January 2022, but the programme ended earlier in 2023 to conserve supplies.
The Biden administration said the programme previously distributed 755 million free Covid-19 tests through the United States Postal Service.
When the public health emergency ended in May, many insurance companies stopped covering the cost of tests, leaving people to pay out of pocket.
There were 20,538 hospitalisations from 3 September to 9 September, about an 8% increase from the previous week, according to the CDC’s Covid-19 tracker.
The test kits are intended for use through the end of 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said.
There will also be instructions on how people can verify extended test expiration dates because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously issued guidance suggesting that shelf life is longer than the original packaging states.
Last week, the Biden administration announced an investment of $600m (£491m) for 12 domestic Covid-19 test manufacturers.
The administration expects a supply of about 200 million tests to come from those companies.
How to Get Free Tests
To order free at-home Covid-19 tests, go to the website COVIDtests.gov. You will be then be prompted to fill in your contact information and your shipping address.
USPS notes that orders will ship free starting the week of 2 October 2023.
There is a limit of one order per residential address.
For those who cannot order online, you can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).
Source : BBC