Lateral flows run out and ‘very few’ PCRs left in NYE build up – as No 10 warns 'be cautious' if you can't test

LATERAL flow tests are unavailable again today and there are very few PCR tests available at walk-in sites.

New Year celebrations are just around the corner and Brits wanting to see 2022 in with a bang had been urged to take a test before meeting up with loved ones.


Pharmacies are also struggling with supply and No 10 last night confirmed that despite the shortage in testing, Brits should still go out and have fun, but should remain 'cautious' if they had been unable to test.

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

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 string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

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What counts as a positive lateral flow test and what getting a faint line means

A message on the government's website today stated that there were no lateral flow tests available for delivery slots at the moment.

Usually Brits would be directed to pharmacies, but people trying to access them at their local sites have in many cases, been turned away.

If you're trying to get a PCR test, there are none available for home delivery and very few slots available across England.

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

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

The rush for lateral flow tests could be down to NYE celebrations and the change in isolation rules.

The change in rules meant that people testing negative on day six and seven on isolation could be released – meaning that many Brits who missed out on Christmas, might be able to celebrate New Year.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said the country is being hit by a shortage and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said we should be 'sensible' when celebrating.

He said: "Everybody should enjoy New Year but in a cautious and sensible way. Take a test, ventilation, think about others but above all get a booster."

The PM reiterated findings from various studies which have shown that Omicron is a milder illness.

'EXERCISE CAUTION'

A spokesperson for No 10 said that testing wasn't a requirement of going 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 they should not go out. It’s about personal responsibility. But of course people should get a test where possible.”

Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said the conditions at a New Year's Eve gathering were "perfect" for spreading coronavirus.

Experts today said that the shortage in tests was problematic.

"I think it's very worrying indeed," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We know the situations in which transmission happens and fortunately I don't think we are facing the sort of lockdown that was necessary in order to cope in the very earliest part of this year.

"But we do know that crowding together in poorly ventilated spaces, particularly if you are shouting over loud music and so on, is absolutely perfect in terms of transmitting this very, very highly transmissible virus."

The UK's Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are responsible for testing and have carried out more than 400 million tests since the start of the pandemic.

Responding to shortages yesterday, a spokesperson said: “We are delivering record numbers 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 slots available per day since mid-December and we are continuing to rapidly expand capacity – with over half a million tests carried out on 23 December alone and delivery capacity doubled to 900,000 PCR and LFD test kits a day.

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

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