Covid test crisis for New Year as Lateral Flow and PCR kits run out for second day

The lack of PCR and lateral flow tests is due to “expectional demand’, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

Furvah Shah
Wednesday 29 December 2021 12:25
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<p>On-the-day PCR test appointments were unavailable by Monday afternoon in large parts of the UK, as were lateral flow tests. (Jane Barlow/PA)</p>

On-the-day PCR test appointments were unavailable by Monday afternoon in large parts of the UK, as were lateral flow tests. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Lateral flow and PCR tests are unavailable to order for the second day in the lead up to the new year.

The government website has stated there are no delivery slots left for rapid tests since Monday and no at-home or in-person PCR tests, with the UK Health Security Agency saying the shortage is due to “exceptional demand”.

This comes after the government announced there would be no further coronavirus restrictions in England over the new year period, despite all other UK nations tightening their limitations on large gatherings and hospitality venues.

The government website states that people may still be able to pick up rapid tests from local pharmacies or collection points.

Pharmacies across the country have also reported lateral flow test shortages, with the supply chain thought to be disprupted by the Christmas and bank holiday periods.

There is also a lack of availability for PCR tests on the government website, which states that at-home tests for the general public and essential workers are not available.

Test sites which offer walk-through or drive-through PCR tests currently have no availability across England and Northern Ireland, with Scotland and Wales having some availability.

A UKHSA spokesperson said: “Despite unprecedented demand, we are continuing to supply millions of rapid lateral flow tests every day. Our total delivery capacity has doubled to 900,000 test kits per day since Saturday 18 December so more people can order tests.

“During periods of exceptional demand there may be temporary pauses in ordering or receiving tests, to ensure we manage distribution across the system and support changing requirements for LFD [lateral flow device] and PCR tests, and delivery capacity was reduced over Christmas and the bank holiday.”

This comes as the government ruled out further Covid restrictions in England before the new year, despite other parts of the UK tightening the rules as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, responding to reports of unavailability of Covid tests, said:“The failure to make enough tests available weeks after they became a requirement is a total shambles.

“People are trying to do the right thing, follow the government’s own advice, and test themselves regularly, but are prevented by the Conservative Government’s incompetence.“They need to get a grip and provide enough tests so people can keep themselves and everyone else safe.”

Health secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed the Prime Minister had decided against new measures, but said ministers would look again in January at whether more limitations were needed.

“There will be no further measures before the new year,” Mr Javid told reporters on Monday.

“We won’t be taking any further measures. Of course people should remain cautious as we approach new year celebrations.”

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