Covid-19: Is there a shortage of lateral flow tests, can you get lateral flow tests in pharmacies, do you need a QR code for collection, are the tests free and are lateral flow tests effective against the Omicron variant?

LATERAL flow tests are currently in high demand in England due to new Covid-19 restrictions.

Thursday, 30th December 2021, 12:03 pm

With the rise of Omicron cases across the UK, new Covid-19 rules have been put in place to ease the spread of the variant.

Nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people need to be provided with a Covid-pass or negative result upon entry.

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Lateral flow tests are currently in high demand in England.

The Covid-19 status can be confirmed with proof of being fully vaccinated (currently two doses), proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or an exemption through the NHS App, text, or an email from the NHS.

Here is everything you need to know about lateral flow tests in England:

Are lateral flow tests available in pharmacies?

Picking up a lateral flow test is one way to receive the rapid tests.

If you prefer to pick up the tests from a pharmacy instead of ordering online for delivery, these pharmacies in Portsmouth currently have lateral flow tests according to the NHS website.

Only pick up testing kits from the pharmacy if you do not have Covid-19 symptoms.

Do you need a QR code to pick up the tests?

Yes, you now need a QR code to collect a lateral flow testing kit.

To find the QR code, visit the NHS testing website, find your nearest pharmacy and select 'get a collect code'.

You can also receive a collect code by calling 119 between 7am and 11pm.

The code will be sent to you via email or text and you can print out the code if you wish.

A new collect code will be supplied for each collection and this will need to be shown when you collect your tests.

Is there a shortage of lateral flow tests?

In recent weeks, lateral flow tests for home delivery have been hard to come by on the NHS website.

Government ministers stated that there was not a shortage of lateral flow tests but an increase in demand due to new restrictions.

Downing Street said that ministers were working with Amazon and Royal Mail to ensure delivery for lateral flow tests.

The prime minister's official spokesperson said: 'We are increasing the capacity, Royal Mail are freeing up additional delivery slots to become available in the next few days and we’re working with a range of businesses including Amazon to further expand capacity.'

Home delivery lateral flow kits for Portsmouth residents are not currently available online due to being out of stock.

The message on the website states that there are currently no home delivery slots available but you can pick up tests from a pharmacy or collection point today if you do not have symptoms.

The 119 service does not have access to more home delivery slots at present and you cannot order tests from 111 or 999.

Do you need to pay for lateral flow tests?

At home lateral flow and PCR tests are free in England.

The NHS home testing kits are not valid for travel and lateral flow or PCR tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider.

Can a lateral flow test detect Omicron?

A lateral flow test will not be able to reveal what Covid-19 variant is present.

To know whether you have Omicron, you will need to take a PCR test as these tests can detect not only the presence of Covid-19 but the genetic material of the virus as well.

The UK Health Security Agency has carried out a series of tests on the lateral flow devices and has reported that Omicron can be detected with the at-home kit.

Are lateral flow tests reliable?

A lateral flow test will pick up positive cases when the virus is at its peak.

If you take a lateral flow test too early into the infection, the test may not pick up the virus or you may have not done the test correctly.

Lateral flow tests have high sensitivity and do not give out many false-positive results but may give out false negatives.

If you are unsure, repeat the test, or if you have symptoms, do a PCR test.

On gov.uk, the website states that once you have ordered an at-home kit, you should take a test twice a week (every three to four days) and report every result, negative or positive, on the NHS website the same day you take the test.