‘People try to be responsible’ – but there is no sidestream test | Coronavirus

While people across the UK are preparing to call in the new year, one thing that will be missing for many is a Covid lateral flow test.

Pharmacies in the center of the city’s warehouses have been wiped out as people seek safety before attending parties or meeting vulnerable relatives.

While it is not uncommon for malls to be busy between Christmas and New Year, with shoppers coming on sale and enjoying festive markets, the most coveted products prove to be the tests.

On Thursday, the Guardian visited four chemists in Kingston upon Thames, a busy shopping center in south-west London, and found that three were sold out and the fourth had a set left.

Beverley Bairstow
Beverley Bairstow picked up the council’s free trial when she knew the pharmacies had none. Photo: Martin Godwin / The Guardian

Staff advised customers to return tomorrow as test kits could not be ordered online either. The NHS website allows users to search for tests by zip code, but none of the recommended pharmacies in Kingston upon Thames had any in stock.

Boxes with 20 LFTs were available at a test facility operated by the municipality. Some shoppers told the Guardian that it was the only place they had been able to pick up tests.

“I’ve tried three different pharmacies in the main street where I live over the last few weeks and they’ve been out,” said Sally Arnold of Surbiton. “It will also make it difficult for people to go back to work if you can not get hold of them as we are going into the office.”

Her friend Lisa Sanders, also from Surbiton, said: “I ordered some about a week ago and I’m still waiting for them to be delivered – every time I look at the app it says ‘sorry, no deliveries’.

“I think people are trying to be responsible and do the right thing, but if you can not get a test, what can you do? I was lucky, I saw my sister for Christmas in another part of the country, and she could get them and gave me a box but you just can not get them anywhere here.

Francesca Rowland
Francesca Rowland with a box of quick tests. Photo: Martin Godwin / The Guardian

A member of staff at the facility, who wished to remain anonymous, said LFTs had been available at the test site throughout the year, but the influx had “shot up” since the Omicron variant led to a sharp rise in registered cases.

Ministers have encouraged people to test before socializing, and the rise in demand has surpassed supply.

Beverley Bairstow, from Kingston, said she had come directly to the municipality after hearing about the lack of pharmacies closer to where she lives.

She said: “I did not even want to try elsewhere because I heard that they have not got them. We are trying to keep some in the house, but now we have run out and were told that our local pharmacy has nothing left. “We also tried online, but there were none available either. When we saw that there were some here, we thought: nice, finally.”

Lutz Amechi
Lutz Amechi: ‘The only way we get through this is constant, frequent testing. Photo: Martin Godwin / The Guardian

Francesca Rowland said she had filled up with tests for friends and family as well as herself. “I have not been able to get any samples until today, and because I work at a school, I have to do them every day,” she said. “It has not been easy because we can not order online now, but luckily I knew this was here.”

Lutz Amechi of Kingston said, “My belief is that the only way we can get through this is constant, frequent testing, so we test every other day at home.”

Leave a Comment