As 2022 approaches with rapid strides, people may be getting ready for New Year’s Eve.
But if you want to take a PCR test before meeting friends and family, it can be a struggle.
The UK is facing a nationwide shortage of lateral flow and PCR tests available at pharmacies and for delivery.
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This means that the government is struggling to secure supplies of tests from around the world to meet an increase in demand while people try to comply with the guidelines to limit the spread of Omicron.
Around 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning, the Chronicle found that for Newcastle, the nearest available drive-through test site was 63.2 miles in Hawick, Scotland, with 47 slots according to the online booking system.
Later in the day, however, the website said there were “no appointments” available at either drive-through locations or walk-in locations, saying “try again in a few hours”.
The website states: “Tests must first go to significant workers, including the NHS and social workers.
“If you can not get a test now, try again later. You will not be able to get a test through the guides.”
Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the Advisory Group on Emerging and New Respiratory Virus Threats (Nervtag), said the lack of Covid-19 tests is “very worrying” ahead of the New Year.
He told BBC Radio 4s Today program: “I think it’s very worrying.
“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 government is under increasing pressure to increase the capacity for coronavirus testing as the number of cases reached their highest level yet.
A new record was set for the daily number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday with 183,037 registered cases in the UK, an increase of more than 50,000 from 129,471 cases on Tuesday.
The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said eight million lateral flow test kits would be made available to pharmacies by New Year’s Eve.
A spokesman for the UKHSA said: “The UK’s testing program is the largest in Europe with almost 400 million tests conducted since the start of the pandemic.
“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 booking sites available a day since mid-December, and we continue to expand capacity rapidly – with over half a million tests performed on 23 December alone and delivery capacity doubled 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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