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COVID-19: No PCR slots available in parts of England – with lateral flows still unavailable online

There are no available PCR test slots at walk-in or drive-through sites in some parts of England for people with coronavirus symptoms, as issues surrounding the delivery of rapid tests run into a second day.

Earlier this morning, the government website said there were no slots available for PCR tests at walk-in and drive-in test sites across all regions.

It was later updated to show slots were available everywhere, although there are in fact still “none available” in Hertfordshire, Suffolk, the Isle of Wight, Bristol, and Mendip.

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PCR test kits, which are posted to people’s homes and usually arrive the next day, are available, the website said.

People are advised to try again later if they cannot get a test, which will not be available through helplines.

On Tuesday, new guidance came into force for the testing of coronavirus close contacts.

Double-jabbed people are now being asked to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days if they come into contact with someone with COVID-19.

But, for the second day running, lateral flow tests are unavailable to be ordered via the government website, though it is understood that a number were available in the early hours of the morning.

A message on the site on Tuesday morning said there were no tests available for home delivery, although tests can still be collected from pharmacies.

On Monday, the UK Health Security Agency said that “due to exceptionally high demand, ordering lateral flow tests on gov.uk has been temporarily suspended to fulfil existing orders”.

Ministers have insisted there is no issue over supply, but rather there are constraints on the delivery system, as they encouraged people to pick up testing kits from their local pharmacies.

However, many people have reported that their local pharmacy is out of stock.

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid said limits on ordering tests were linked to delivery capacity, before adding that new arrangements have been reached with delivery companies such as Amazon.

But Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting described COVID testing as a “shambles”.

Mr Streeting said an increase in demand should have been foreseen, and added: “Those coming into contact with positive Omicron cases will not be able to follow the rules and get themselves tested on a daily basis.”

How PM plans to ramp up booster vaccinations – and how you can get one

There has also been an increased demand for booster vaccines, with many people spending hours in queues at walk-in clinics to get their jabs.

Over-18s will be able to book their booster from tomorrow, online or by calling 119.

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