Record number of lateral flow tests available this month, says Gillian Keegan

A record number of lateral flow tests will soon be available according to Health Minister Gillian Keegan.

Over the past few weeks, the UK government has scrambled to secure testing supplies from around the world to meet increased demand as people attempt to comply with guidelines to limit the spread of the Omicron variant.

At several times during the holiday season, home delivery slots for lateral flow testing were not available on the Gov.UK website.

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Pharmacies have also complained about the uneven supply of lateral flow kits.

But Ms Keegan assured the public that there would be no problem ordering lateral flow tests.

The Health Minister told BBC Breakfast: ‘What we have are many, many more lateral flow tests.

“Yesterday was a record – we sent 741,000 lateral flow tests to people’s homes.

“We tripled the capacity – that’s what we worked on over Christmas – so for January and February we have 350 million lateral flow tests, so hopefully that should sort out some of the supply issues at short term that we had where people had to wait a bit to get their packs.

“We do so much of them and they are really accurate when you have a very contagious variant like Omicron.”

It comes as reports suggest coronavirus testing rules should be relaxed to reduce the time people have to spend in isolation as Boris Johnson acts to tackle staff absences in key sectors of the economy and health services.

People with a positive lateral flow test will no longer need a confirmatory PCR to begin the self-isolation period if they do not have symptoms, potentially allowing them to return to work earlier, in the framework of the plans envisaged by the ministers.

Under the changes to the testing regime, first reported by the Daily Telegraph, PCR capacity in labs will be limited to those with symptoms of Covid-19.

Currently, people without symptoms who test positive on a lateral flow are advised to order a PCR test and only begin their isolation period when they receive the second result, effectively requiring them to self-isolate for more than seven days. – especially if there are delays in obtaining the confirmation result.

Ms Keegan told the BBC that there was no “official news or updates” on the change, but since the lateral flow tests are accurate, the government “was looking into what makes sense, we are not ‘we don’t need to do unnecessary things.

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