The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and Royal Mail have announced that capacity for Covid testing will ‘double’ in response to ‘unprecedented demand’.
It comes amid problems with ordering PCR and lateral flow tests (LFTs) this week, as Covid case rates have reached record levels and the Government recommended wider usage of rapid tests
The increased availability will see:
- 900,000 PCR and LFT tests delivered daily by Saturday this week.
- Booking slots for PCR testing sites increasing by 100,000 a day from tomorrow, focused on ‘oversubscribed’ areas.
- To ‘ensure a good testing supply over the coming weeks’, UKHSA is also ‘working to secure hundreds of millions more LFD tests and an increase in PCR laboratory testing capacity of up to 150,000 tests per day’.
UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said: ‘This huge operational effort will mean that almost one million people will benefit from ordering Covid-19 tests directly to their homes, every day.’
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘I’m delighted that Royal Mail is expanding our distribution service which will mean over 900,000 PCR and LFD test kits can be delivered to homes across the country every single day.
‘It’s vital we all play our part in the national effort to tackle Omicron by getting tested if we have symptoms and using LFDs daily if we’re a close contact of a case.’
It comes as the Government published new guidance for the public on the weekend which said fully vaccinated Omicron variant contacts can take daily LFTs for seven days instead of isolating for 10 days.
However, UKHSA has told Pulse GPs and staff must still isolate if they are a confirmed Omicron contact.
People are also required to show Covid passes or a negative lateral flow test to enter large events as part of the rollout of plan B restrictions.