Website runs out of LFD test packs as users face online queues for booster-booking

Written by John Johnston and Sam Trendall on 14 December 2021 in News
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Surge in demand for jabs and tests follows PM’s statement to the nation on Sunday night

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

Free lateral flow test kits available to order online have run out following pleas from ministers for people to test more frequently,

The website through which citizens can book their booster jab, meanwhile, was subject to long queues yesterday, with those who could not access the booking process urged to wait a few hours and try again.

The surge in demand for packs of rapid tests followed the announcement of new rules for contacts of Covid cases allowing people to avoid self-isolation by taking daily tests.

A message on the government's booking website on Monday said: "Sorry, there are no more home tests available right now. Try again later. Or, you can go back and try to book a test site appointment instead."

By Tuesday morning, the message had changed to: "There are no rapid lateral flow tests available to order today for home delivery. You can still pick up rapid lateral flow tests from a pharmacy or collection point today."

In a statement, the UK Health Security Agency reiterated that all online orders had been temporarily suspended, but that kits were available at other locations for collection.


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"Everyone who needs lateral flow test can collect test kits either from your local pharmacy, some community sites and some schools and colleges," it said. "Due to exceptionally high demand, ordering lateral flow tests on gov.uk has been temporarily suspended to fulfil existing orders."

Citizens been urged to take the lateral flow tests more frequently when planning to meet others in crowded, indoor places after a significant surge in new cases of Covid-19, likely triggered by the new Omicron variant.

Speaking on Monday, prime minister Boris Johnson said there was a "ready supply" of the kits.

"If you can't get one online for any reason, then there are ample supplies in the shops," he said. "What that shows is that people are doing the sensible thing, and getting tests as well."

On Sunday Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government was bringing forward their target for offering booster jabs to all adults to the end of December.

Johnson said the country "must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection", as he warned of a "tidal wave" of Omicron infections.

But users of the government's website for trying to book vaccine appointments has experienced long wait times to access the page to book in the jab (pictured above).

"The Covid vaccine booking service is currently facing extremely high demand so is operating a queuing system," a tweet from the official NHS account said on Monday. “For users aged 18-29, please be aware that booking opens on Wednesday 15 Dec. For all others experiencing waits, we would advise trying again later today or tomorrow.”

 

About the author

John Johnston is a reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets as @johnjohnstonmi.

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