Amazon to deliver sidestream kits after government website overwhelmed by demand
Britons are bracing for a rush to access Covid testing as new daily testing rules take effect for contacts of positive cases.
Officials insisted there was no shortage of lateral flow kits, although thousands of users were told none were available on the government website throughout. Monday.
The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said the government had enough stocks to meet demand, but a lack of postal slots had forced it to suspend the distribution of tests amid overwhelming demand.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs “new deals” have been made with companies, including Amazon, to ensure delivery of the tests.
It comes as the online retail giant is also set to start selling low-cost PCR tests to travelers. It is understood that the Amazon service may be added to the list of government approved providers imminently.
Mr Javid said: “There is no shortage of actual tests organized by the UKHSA. There are tens of millions of tests … the problem, the limiting factor due to the greatly increased demand …
He said a record number of tests would be delivered each day and the number of “hotspots” is increasing, especially through local pharmacies.
Boots, which supplies lateral flow test kits to 2,100 pharmacies across the UK, admitted it faces a shortage in some areas.
A spokesperson said I that while overall inventory levels have remained good, there are “a small number of stores that are experiencing temporary shortages due to higher demand.”
Rules come into force from Tuesday that allow double-bite people identified as having contact with someone with Covid-19 in England to take a rapid daily test for seven days, instead of self-isolating.
Meanwhile, new regulations, which are expected to be voted on in the House of Commons this week, will require those who are not vaccinated to present proof of a negative test result to gain access to large indoor places, such as boxes of night.
The plan would extend the Covid passport rules already in place for Scotland and Wales.
A UKHSA spokesperson said: “Anyone who needs a lateral flow test can pick up test kits – either at their local pharmacy, at some community sites, and at some schools and colleges.
“Due to exceptionally high demand, the ordering of lateral flow tests on gov.uk has been temporarily suspended to fulfill existing orders. “
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Lateral flow testing is plentiful. We have more than enough supply. What we are finding is that due to the increased demand today, those that are available to be posted today, those slots have already been filled. “
On Monday, the Prime Minister urged people to visit stores and pharmacies if they cannot book a delivery on the gov.uk website.