‘Big problem’ for Omicron push as lateral flow tests ‘unavailable’ on government website

A lateral flow test
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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.

“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”.

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Coronavirus – Mon Dec 13, 2021
The message was on the Government website (UK Government/PA)

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:

Other sources are advising that tests should still be available:

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.

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