The ordering of lateral flow tests (LFTs) on the government website has been temporarily suspended amid “exceptionally high demand”, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said. The website on 13 December advised people to “try again later” or to book a coronavirus test site appointment instead.
Considering a large part of the Government's strategy depends on access to lateral flow tests (10 days of daily testing if a contact), this is *a big problem*. pic.twitter.com/bhPmICGRwL
— Dr Duncan Robertson (@Dr_D_Robertson) December 13, 2021
“What’s going on!”
The UKHSA said the pause is temporary and availability refreshed daily, with people encouraged to re-visit the website from 14 December. Boris Johnson was asked about potential supply issues during a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington in West London and told broadcasters there is a “ready supply”.
A UKHSA spokesperson said:
Everyone who needs a lateral flow test can collect test kits – either at their local pharmacy, some community sites and some schools and colleges.
Due to exceptionally high demand, ordering lateral flow tests on gov.uk has been temporarily suspended to fulfil existing orders.
This comes a day after Johnson announced new measures to combat the Omicron variant which predictably would have led to an increase in demand. UKHSA added there is no shortage of LFTs and the government has enough stock to meet demand.
Responding to people being unable to order tests, Johnson said:
They can get those tests, we do have a ready supply of lateral flow tests.
If you can’t get one online for any reason, then there are ample supplies in the shops.
Speaking to Sky News, pharmacist Sunil Gautama said he’d been experiencing shortages for the past few weeks:
Pharmacist Sunil Gautama says "people are becoming more acutely aware of testing" with the new Omicron variant, adding that his pharmacy is currently experiencing a shortage of lateral flow testing kits.#COVID latest: https://t.co/xGeqDf8CGN pic.twitter.com/mS0mDytZ7E
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 13, 2021
You can also pick up a set of lateral flow tests from a pharmacy. There are plenty of locations listened through test and trace, but we're seeing reports of pharmacies running out too https://t.co/bmaIvCnT2b
— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) December 13, 2021
Other sources are advising that tests should still be available:
Help reduce the spread of COVID-19 with regular testing. Free NHS COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device test kits are available at over 2,100 of our pharmacies and we have plenty in stock across the UK overall. Let’s help keep each other safe. #LFTs #LateralFlowTest pic.twitter.com/I9co3W5r8y
— Boots (@BootsUK) December 13, 2021
NHS Covid Pass
It’s been announced that double-jabbed people identified as a contact of someone with coronavirus (Covid-19) in England will be told to take a daily rapid test for seven days from 14 December. New regulations, set to be put to a debate and vote in the Commons this week, could also see the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS app becoming mandatory for entry into clubs and other large gatherings – but with a negative home test as an alternative for the unvaccinated.
One person said on Twitter:
Tried to order a lateral flow test kit and the NHS site says they have no more! What’s going on!
Paul Taylor, a 37-year-old pharmacy technician from Leeds, told the PA news agency he was “frightened” at the prospect of being unable to order any lateral flow tests. He said he had:
only recently started to socialise normally (going to the gym, attending big events etcetera). Doing regular LFTs has relieved the anxiety of potentially passing anything on that I’ve felt throughout the pandemic.
I’m frightened because without tests I only have two choices: (1) go out but risk passing on the virus to other people or (2) stay in and return to self-imposed lockdown.
Jessica Keogh, a 32-year-old executive assistant from London, told PA she had run out of lateral flow tests and was unable to order more. She said:
It’s actually my worry that I won’t be able to get any before Christmas and I will worry about being able to visit my family
However, there appeared to be no problems with the availability of PCR home test kits.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?