Lateral flow runs out and ‘very few’ PCRs left in NYE are built up

LATERAL flow tests are not available again today, and there are very few PCR tests available at walk-in locations.

The New Year celebration is just around the corner, and Britons who wanted to see 2022 in with a bang had been urged to take a test before meeting with their loved ones.

Pharmacies across the country have run out of lateral flow tests, nor are they available on the government's website

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Pharmacies across the country have run out of lateral flow tests, nor are they available on the government’s websiteCredit: PA
People trying to access a PCR test via the government's website have been met with this message this morning

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People trying to access a PCR test via the government’s website have been met with this message this morningCredit: gov.uk

Pharmacies are also struggling with supply, and No. 10 confirmed last night that despite the lack of testing, Brits should still go out and have fun, but should remain ‘cautious’ if they had not been able to test.

One of the best ways to protect people is to get a test to avoid the spread of the Omicron variant, with which most people have experienced cold-like symptoms.

Omicron is now responsible for 90 per cent of cases in the UK and has taken over from the Delta variant.

It comes as a series of very positive studies showing that Omicron is milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing that the risk of hospitalization is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and provide the best chance of getting through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping to get the vital extra vaccines into British arms to stave off the need for new restrictions.

A statement on the government’s website today stated that there were no lateral flow tests available for delivery slots at this time.

Normally, the British will be referred to pharmacies, but people who try to access them on their local sites have in many cases been rejected.

If you are trying to get a PCR test, there is no one available for home delivery and very few places are available throughout the UK.

There are none available in the East Midlands, North East and West Midlands, while the rest of England has few available.

But they are available in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The haste with lateral flow tests may be due to NYE fasteners and the change in insulation rules.

The change in the rules meant that people who tested negative on days six and seven on isolation could be released – meaning many Britons who missed Christmas might be able to celebrate New Year.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the country is in short supply, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said we should be ‘sensible’ when celebrating.

He said: “Everyone should enjoy the New Year, but in a careful and sensible way. Take a test, vent, think of others, but above all get a booster.”

The Prime Minister reiterated results from various studies which have shown that Omicron is a milder disease.

‘BE CAREFUL’

A spokesman for No. 10 said testing was not a requirement to go out this New Year.

They told The Times: “People should exercise caution and testing is one of several mitigations.

“The government is not telling people not to go out. It’s about personal responsibility. But of course people have to take a test where possible.”

Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the Advisory Group on Emerging and New Respiratory Virus Threats (Nervtag), said the conditions on New Year’s Eve were “perfect” for spreading coronavirus.

Experts said today that the lack of testing was problematic.

“I find that very worrying,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

“We know the situations where transmission is happening, and fortunately I do not think we are facing the kind of lockdown that was necessary to cope with us in the very earliest part of this year.

“But we know that crowding into poorly ventilated spaces, especially if you are shouting over loud music and so on, is absolutely perfect in terms of transmitting this very, very, very transmissible virus.”

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is responsible for testing and has conducted more than 400 million tests since the start of the pandemic.

In response to a shortage yesterday, a spokesman said: “We deliver a record number of lateral flow tests to pharmacies across the country, with almost 8 million test kits being made available to pharmacies between today and New Year’s Eve.

“We have made 100,000 more PCR bookings available a day since mid-December, and we continue to expand capacity rapidly – with over half a million tests performed on December 23 alone and doubling delivery capacity to 900,000 PCR and LFD test set a day.

“If you have not been able to get the test you need from gov.uk, keep checking every few hours as more PCR and LFD tests become available each day.”

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New Year’s Eve parties should take a lateral flow test and celebrate outside despite no Covid rules, warns Sajid Javid

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