Covid PCR test appointments temporarily run out and lateral flow kits unavailable online for second day

2021-12-30 10:53:20 By : Mr. Kevin Cui

England ran of lateral flow tests to order online and PCR testing appointments for a second day today, while some in Scotland reported severe delays to PCR results.

People in England were unable to book a PCR test at a testing centre on the Government website on for around two hours on Tuesday, with no appointments available in any of England’s regions.

There were also temporarily no lateral flow tests available to order on the Government website after delivery slots ran out.

This is the second day in a row that the tests have run out, after temporary shortages at midday on Monday.

Home PCR tests remained available for the general public and for essential workers, and the Government website said that lateral flows may be available for collection at pharmacies.

Walk-in PCR tests remained available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but some in Scotland reported waiting up to five days for their results.

The results should arrive within 48 hours.

Matthew Campbell, a primary school teacher from Dundee, spent Christmas in isolation as he waited for a PCR test result taken on 23 December, only to find out on Tuesday morning it was negative, BBC Scotland reported.

Nicola and Paul Jenkins from North Lanarkshire also took a PCR test on 23 December, along with their 18-month-old son, after Mr Jenkins received a positive lateral flow test. Mr Jenkins received a positive PCR result this morning but his wife and son still have not received their results, the broadcaster said.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) blamed “exceptional demand” for the PCR delays and said it was adding extra capacity to their laboratories.

The agency apologised to those “waiting a little longer” for their results.

The body also said it had experienced “unprecedented demand” for lateral flow tests and that this could cause “temporary pauses in ordering or receiving tests”.

It also said that Christmas celebrations had hindered its ability to deliver the tests.

“During periods of exceptional demand there may be temporary pauses in ordering or receiving tests, to ensure we manage distribution across the system and support changing requirements for LFD and PCR tests, and delivery capacity was reduced over Christmas and the bank holiday,” a UKHSA spokesperson said.

They encouraged people to refresh the booking page every few hours and to avoid stockpiling tests, requesting that people “please ensure they are making use of any tests they already have at home before ordering or collecting more.”

It comes after the UK recorded a further 321,036 Covid cases over the Christmas period. England reported a record number of new cases on Christmas Day, with 113,628 infections logged on 25 December.

Infections in Scotland also hit record numbers over the Christmas period, with 29,844 cases recorded between 25 and 27 December.

Health officials have noted that there will likely be a lag in positive tests being recorded, meaning the true number of Covid infections over the Christmas period could be much higher.

Despite the high rates of coronavirus cases, ministers are said to be “increasing optimism” about the impact of Omicron on the UK.

Early data from the UK Health Security Agency finding that people were 50 to 70 per cent less likely to go to hospital with the new variant, while the number of daily hospitalisations in Omicron epicentre of London remained under 400 during the Christmas period – this had been a key benchmark for officials in monitoring the severity of the variant.

Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University and member of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, said he believed the worst of the pandemic was now over, with the success of the vaccine rollout meaning that the “horrific scenes” of 2020 were now “history”.

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