COVID-19: PCR and lateral flow tests may temporarily “run out” amid a rise in demand, say health officials | UK News

Coronavirus tests may be temporarily unavailable to order due to “unusually high demand”, the UK Health Security Agency has warned.

Demand is rising as the more portable Omicron variant pushes case numbers to record levels.

Lateral flow and PCR testing were both unavailable for home delivery across the UK via the government website on Wednesday morning.

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PCR tests are not available for delivery
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PCR tests were not available for delivery Wednesday morning

PCR walk-in and drive-through locations were also severely limited. None were available in England or Northern Ireland and “very few” in Scotland.

Both tests were available for delivery shortly after noon, while personal PCR slots could also be booked nationwide.

After about half an hour of availability, however, lateral flow tests again proved unavailable for delivery – suggesting that supply could be unstable in the coming days.

Gov.uk says that people may still be able to pick up a set from a pharmacy when the site shows lateral flow tests as inaccessible.

However, pharmacies also report very high demand with people comes in “every five minutes” for testing according to an industry representative.

A spokesman for the UK Health Security Agency said “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 and PCR tests” .

He said availability is regularly updated throughout the day.

“We encourage people to visit the site again every few hours if they are unable to order tests, as more will be available – and to ensure that they make use of the tests they already have at home before. they order or collect more. “

Demand is also thought to have been driven by recently updated COVID insulation rules.

A sign informing customers that lateral flow test is sold out was seen at a pharmacy in the middle of the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London, UK December 15, 2021. REUTERS / Kevin Coombs
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Pharmacies are also struggling with a very high demand for tests

People can now complete isolation after one week instead of 10 days if given two negative lateral flow tests at 24-hour intervals – the first taken on the sixth day.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated also do not need to isolate themselves, but it is strongly recommended to take a lateral flow test every day for a week.

A large number of absences are affecting the NHS badly, with four out of 10 employees in London currently not at work due to illness or coronavirus quarantine.

It has led to calls for the isolation period to be cut back to five days to protect key industries after a similar move in America.

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ICU patients ‘overwhelming’ not boosted – Johnson

Reflecting the picture in a number of European countries, the number of cases of coronavirus broke another new record in the UK on Tuesday, with 117,093 reported.

However, the number of seriously ill people on a respirator in the hospital has not increased so far, which apparently supports studies suggesting that Omicron is not as harmful as the Delta variant.

That’s what Boris Johnson said on Wednesday “up to 90%” of people currently on intensive care with COVID have not received their booster jab.

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