High demand for lateral flow tests amid Omicron warnings
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A diagnostics chief is warning the ongoing problem with people not being able to get lateral flow tests could continue unless the government changes its strategy.
Following on from Boris Johnson's warning over the Omicron Covid-19 variant and the tightening up of restrictions in England, many more people are picking up lateral flow tests from pharmacies and libraries.
Under new rules fully vaccinated people who come into contact with a person with Covid should take daily lateral flow tests for seven days, whatever their age or vaccination status.
The 30-minute tests also need to be taken before people can attend certain public events.
Dr Berwyn Clarke, chairman of Norwich-based Iceni Diagnostics, which makes tests to detect viruses, said: "The lack of tests seems to be a universal problem. It is logistical problem."
He said one of the problems was the government's reliance on tests from overseas and the problem could be helped if tests made in Britain, which were available through other diagnostic companies, were commissioned.
"As things progress there is going to be an ongoing need for these tests."
Sewkuar Seepaul, pharmacist manager of Hurn Chemist in Unthank Road, Norwich, said he sold out of 50 test kits on Thursday, December 16 after getting a delivery that morning.
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He said: "It is putting more pressure on our staff because everyone is calling in. People are not happy. They have been told to use lateral flow tests and that is causing more hassle."
He added the demand for tests was stopping pharmacists carrying out their dispensing roles but said: "It is important to make sure everyone is safe. I wish we had more stock. The government did it in a rush."
The manager believed the code-based system made the process of giving out tests more complicated, compared to giving tests out if requested.
Raj Thakrar, pharmacist at Woodgrove Pharmacy in Catton Grove Road, said it had a daily supply of 60 tests and still had around half on Thursday afternoon after a morning delivery.
He said: "It has been a bit of a shortage but if we manage the stock it shouldn't be a problem. The tests are going out fairly quick. I'm sure things will get better. Norwich people are good at testing themselves."