Wales to loan England four million lateral flow tests as demand surges
The Welsh government is to loan four million lateral flow tests to the NHS in England due to a shortage in supplies.
Record numbers of Covid infections, driven by the Omicron variant have led to a surge in demand for the rapid self-test kits.
People are also being encouraged to use LFD’s before attending gatherings or meeting vulnerable relatives.
The test kits have repeatedly been unavailable on the UK government website over the last few days and many pharmacies are struggling to secure stocks of them.
All gone again!
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Demand for the tests has been compounded by a change in quarantine rules that allows people in England to come out of self-isolation after seven days instead of 10, as long as they carry out two negative lateral flow tests. In Wales that change comes into effect on Friday, 31 December.
In a letter to MPs, UK government Health Minister Sajid Javid said the supply of lateral flow tests (LFD) was being tripled in January and February from a pre-Omicron plan of 100 million to 300 million per month.
“To respond to anticipated demand over the coming few weeks we are buying hundreds of millions more LFD tests, bringing new products on board and accelerating their deployment to the public,” he said.
But “in light of the huge demand for LFDs seen over the last three weeks, we expect to need to constrain the system at certain points over the next two weeks to manage supply over the course of each day, with new tranches of supply released regularly throughout each day.”
Four million LFD’s will now be loaned to England that is in addition to 6 million which were loaned earlier in the pandemic.
In a statement, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Wales has a significant stock of lateral flow tests, sufficient to meet our needs over the weeks ahead.”
“The Health Minister has agreed today to loan a further four million such tests to the English NHS, bringing that mutual aid to 10 million lateral flow tests.”
“Distribution of lateral flow test kits through home delivery and pharmacies remains the responsibility of the UK Government and we are working with it, as it increases the capacity of the system.”
“Wales moved to alert level two on Boxing Day. The public health situation remains very volatile and the Christmas period is always one when collecting and analysing data is challenging.”
PCR tests – which are used to confirm new cases of Covid – have also been unavailable in many parts of England for the last two days, it has led to large queues forming at the Deeside Industrial Estate testing site.
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