PCR tests available again in Lancashire as Government website sees “exceptionally high demand”

PCR tests were completely unavailable across Lancashire and the rest of England earlier today (Wednesday, December 29) due to “exceptionally high demand”, said the Government website.

By Matthew Calderbank
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 2:05 pm
A woman undergoes a PCR throat swab. Pic: AP/Manu Fernandez
A woman undergoes a PCR throat swab. Pic: AP/Manu Fernandez

Update 12.30pm - The Government website has been update and now says it has tests available.

This morning, those with Covid symptoms - including essential workers - were unable to book a PCR test or a lateral flow home test kit anywhere in England.

The government website said: "Tests need to go to essential workers first, including NHS and social care staff. If you cannot get a test now, try again later. You will not be able to get a test through the helplines."

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The Government website says there are no test kits available for home delivery, even for essential workers

Only Scotland and Wales had in-person PCR tests available this morning, according to the Government website.

The website also said there were no lateral flow test kits available for home delivery, even for essential workers with symptoms, who are prioritised over the general public.

"Sorry, there are no home delivery slots left for rapid lateral flow tests right now," said the website.

"If you have tests at home you can use these instead.

PCR tests are completely unavailable across Lancashire and the rest of England according to the Government's own website this morning (Wednesday, December 29)

"The 119 service does not have access to more home delivery slots right now. You cannot order tests from NHS 111 or 999."

You can check the latest availability status on the Government website here.

With no tests available for home delivery, the Government website advised those with symptoms to visit a test site, but no slots were available at any test sites in England.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said nearly 900,000 test kits are being provided per day – which is double the supply seen before December 18.

It said tests may be temporarily unavailable on the Government website at points throughout the day due to “exceptionally high demand” and urged people not to order more tests before using the ones they have.

A spokesman said: “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.

"Reduced postal schedules also impact on delivery capacity over the Christmas period.

"We encourage people to revisit the site every few hours if they are unable to order tests as more will become available – and to please ensure they are making use of any tests they already have at home before ordering or collecting more."

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Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting described the lack of supplies as a “total shambles” caused by “the Conservative Government’s incompetence”.

The Labour MP said: “The failure to make enough tests available weeks after they became a requirement is a total shambles.

“People are trying to do the right thing, follow the Government’s own advice and test themselves regularly, but are prevented by the Conservative Government’s incompetence.

“They need to get a grip and provide enough tests so people can keep themselves and everyone else safe.”

This morning, Work and Pensions minister Chloe Smith said people should “persevere” in their efforts to secure Covid tests amid reports of patchy supply.

She told BBC Breakfast: "What we’re seeing is increased demand for testing, which is good and sensible because that’s part of people having been cautious, I think, and being sensible around Christmas and around New Year.

"So, we’re seeing spikes of demand. What we’ve done in response to that then is double the delivery capacity – so we’ve taken action to make sure that people can get testing kits delivered to them at home. An additional method to that, of course, is going to a pharmacy.

"I quite understand that people will be wanting to make sure that the testing kits are there – that follows on from people having been doing the right thing in being cautious and in wanting to be tested, perhaps before big events or family gatherings.

"What I would say is to please persevere with either making use of your friendly local pharmacy or using the delivery method on the Gov.uk website.

"Even whilst there have been periods of great demand on that, and every so often we’ve had to replenish the means behind the scenes there, that is happening and the delivery is occurring."