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Covid testing shortages undermine Boris Johnson’s plea for ‘cautious’ socialization

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for a “cautious” New Year’s celebration in the UK is being undermined by problems with the availability of lateral flow and PCR testing – a key tool in preventing the spread of Covid-19 infection.

Pharmacies say high demand for lateral flow tests is outpacing supply, while Sir Roger Gale, Tory MP of North Thanet, wrote on Twitter: “Kent appears to be in a state of flow bottleneck lateral flow and PCR testing.”

“There’s no warehouse of chemists and no delivery in East Kent,” said Gale, a situation familiar to many across the UK trying to order tests.

The government’s online ordering platform said on Wednesday morning, “there is no room for home delivery for side-stream tests right now” and there is also no room for PCR bookings.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive officer of the Association of Many Independent Pharmacies, told the Financial Times that providing lateral flow tests to pharmacies was “very patchy”. “The planning is not there, the communication and the messaging are inconsistent and that is why it creates a chaotic situation,” she said.

Andrew Lane, president of the National Pharmaceutical Association, said pharmacies ran out of daily supplies “within two hours”, due to a spike in demand during the holiday season.

“People want to know if they are negative when they visit friends and relatives on New Year’s Eve, so the demand will increase very quickly,” he said. “We need more supply in the system this week.”

The UK Health Security Agency said: “Despite the unprecedented demand, we continue to deliver millions of rapid side-flow tests every day.” Delivery capacity has doubled to 900,000 test kits per day since mid-December, it said.

However, it added: “During periods of special need, ordering or receiving tests may be paused, to ensure we manage system-wide distribution and support require changes to LFD and PCR tests.”

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, said deliveries from UKHSA wholesalers were “drying up” after a “pause” over the Christmas holiday from Friday afternoon to Wednesday morning.

“Many stockpiles of test kits will be shipped to pharmacies this morning, and they will be able to order more for delivery tomorrow and Friday,” he said.

Meanwhile, Johnson warned that “the vast majority” of people in the intensive care unit with Covid have not received booster shots and that the Omicron variant continues to cause “real problems”.

Speaking during a visit to a vaccine center on Wednesday, the prime minister urged people in the UK to get a booster shot and said hospitals were under pressure even though Omicron “is clearly milder than Delta variant”.

Johnson has does not introduce new legal restrictions in the UK to prevent the spread of Omicron over the New Year period, but urged people to celebrate “with caution”.

Health chiefs also warn about Severe staff shortage in hospitals, sparking a debate over whether Britain should follow the US in cutting the Covid isolation period from seven to a minimum. only five days.

The government has so far resisted that idea: Health Secretary Chloe Smith said the quarantine period had just been cut from 10 to a minimum of 7 days and “there are no plans to change that any further”. “.

Instead, the prime minister remains focused on the campaign to boost vaccines as a primary means of protecting the people.

“I’m sorry to say this, but the majority of the people who are currently in intensive care in our hospital are non-motivational,” he said.

“I’ve talked to doctors, who say the number is running up to 90% of people in intensive care.” Government insiders say the figure is based on anecdotal evidence from several NHS trusts.

UK cases of covid hit a record high of 117,093 on Tuesday but the number of people hospitalized was 9,546, far below the peak of 34,000 recorded in January.

Other parts of the UK have imposed tougher restrictions in the UK over the New Year period. John Swinney, First Deputy Minister of Scotland, urged Scots not to come to England for a party on December 31.

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