PCR Covid testing centres across Northern Ireland are to close from Friday.
The move comes with a change in guidance around testing for the virus.
From Friday evening those with symptoms of the virus will no longer be advised to take a PCR test.
The Department of Health said those with symptoms should take a lateral flow test instead.
Changes to COVID-19 testing will take effect tomorrow evening.
Lateral flow tests will be available for anyone who is eligible, including those with symptoms👇
You can order tests online or collect from community pharmacies.
Check if you are eligible ➡️https://t.co/D9CBaQdQgb pic.twitter.com/vvQmGAhuPT
— Department of Health (@healthdpt) April 21, 2022
The guidance around lateral flow tests has also changed.
Those without Covid symptoms are no longer advised to take lateral flow tests, unless they are visiting high risk settings such as care homes and hospital or providing close personal care to someone in their own home.
Those asked to test by their GP or any healthcare professional are also eligible.
Lateral flow tests are to continue to be available free of charge from over 500 community pharmacies or by ordering online.
Deputy chief medical officer, Dr Lourda Geoghegan, described the changes as being due to the risk of serious illness from the virus being significantly reduced.
“These changes are proportionate and necessary at this stage of the pandemic,” she said.
“Transmission of Covid-19 in health and social care settings remains a risk and adds to the demands and pressures on our workforce.
“Anyone visiting friends or family in these settings should continue to take a lateral flow test before their visit.”
The Public Health Agency’s Contact Tracing Service will also change to focus on providing public health advice to positive cases and members of their household.
Those who test positive should continue to report their result.
Contact tracing in the wider community will cease from April 22.
Isolation guidance for household contacts will also change, with daily lateral flow testing no longer advised.
Dr Geoghegan added: “At this time it is important that we focus contact tracing services to help protect those at higher risk.
“Household contacts of a positive case are at greater risk of contracting the virus.
“Positive cases and their households will therefore continue to be provided with the necessary public health advice.
“It also remains vital that those at higher risk and who may be eligible for Covid-19 treatments, take a lateral flow test as soon as symptoms develop, even if symptoms are mild, as treatments should commence quickly following a positive test result.
“I urge everyone to find out if they are eligible to access lateral flow tests under the new arrangements by visiting NI Direct.
“We should continue to protect those at higher risk by testing if we have symptoms and isolating if we receive a positive test result.”
Test and Trace policy is to be kept under review during the ongoing period of transition up until the end of June.