Boris Johnson announcement: PM urges NYE revellers to take lateral flow tests to detect Omicron amid wide shortages

Boris Johnson has urged people to get swabbed before enjoying New Year celebrations despite dwindling supplies of Covid-19 lateral flow tests,

Ministers acknowledged a worldwide supply issue is hitting the UK as people today struggled to get tests through pharmacies or delivered to their home.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid set out the issues in a call with a Tory MP, acknowledging there is not a quick fix to a problem caused by global demand.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, has said patients are often unable to find Covid-19 tests in chemists because of "patchy" and "inconsistent" supplies.

The Government website showed no PCR tests were available for home delivery – even for essential workers – in England or Northern Ireland, with "very few" in Scotland, while Wales had availability only in some regions.

Home delivery slots for lateral flow tests were also unavailable on Wednesday afternoon.

Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Joseph Gamp


    Speaking at a WHO press conference on Wednesday, Dr Ryan said: "Even with the previous variants, most people will incubate and show symptoms or be positive within that first six days or so, and the chances then of being positive or transmitting the disease after that are lower – but it is then for governments to make that judgment call of when to allow people out of a quarantine situation with extra tests.

    "The most important thing at this moment is we need to be careful about changing tactics and strategies immediately on the basis of what we're seeing in early Omicron data.

    "'Oh, it's less severe' – maybe its not; 'It's more transmissible' – maybe it is, but we have to wait and see if the vaccines work or they don't work, we have to wait and see, and I think it will be advisable at this point if we don't see huge shifts, huge moves in reducing control measures for Covid-19 purely on the basis of initial and preliminary studies."

  • Joseph Gamp

    WHO chief urges Governments to be careful with Omicron isolation rules

    A leading figure at the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it is not "advisable" to reduce Covid controls, including self-isolation periods, as increasing case numbers spiral across the globe.

    Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, warned that governments need to be "careful" about reducing restrictions in the light of the Omicron variant.

    At present, people who receive negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period – with tests taken 24 hours apart – no longer have to stay indoors for a full 10 days.

    But calls are growing on the Government to cut this further after the US slashed its self-isolation period to five days for symptomless people when the US Centres for Disease Control said most transmission of the virus happens in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

  • Joseph Gamp

    UK sees record daily high of 183,037 new Covid cases

    THE UK has seen a record high of 183,037 Covid cases today, with a further 57 deaths from the virus.

    But there was positive news on the vaccine front, with a total of 33,091,891 third doses now in the arms of Brits.

    It comes as a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

  • Joseph Gamp


    In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said testing will be prioritised for essential workers as sampling processing capacity is "under pressure".

    She told the Scottish Parliament that "there were steps taken to constrain demand in England last night (Tuesday)", meaning no slots were available to book at physical test sites but "an administrative error" also restricted appointments at sites in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Tory MP Sir Roger Gale told the PA news agency that Mr Javid had admitted there is a problem with supplies – previously ministers and officials had insisted they had sufficient stocks but the problems were in delivering them to people's homes or pharmacies. The North Thanet MP said: "Saj was very honest with me, he said, 'look, there isn't a quick fix'."

    The Government has encouraged regular testing as a way of keeping England's economy open while the devolved administrations have closed nightclubs and taken other steps to limit social contact.

    Tests are also being used to replace self-isolation for contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases, while people returning to work following the Christmas break has also added to demand.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Boris Johnson urges new year partygoers to take Covid test despite shortage

    Boris Johnson's Government is scrambling to secure supplies of Covid-19 tests as the Prime Minister urged people to get swabbed before enjoying New Year celebrations.

    Ministers acknowledged a worldwide supply issue is hitting the UK as people again struggled to get tests through pharmacies or delivered to their home.

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid set out the issues in a call with a Tory MP, acknowledging there is not a quick fix to a problem caused by global demand.

    Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, has said patients are often unable to find Covid-19 tests in chemists because of "patchy" and "inconsistent" supplies.

    The Government website showed no PCR tests were available for home delivery – even for essential workers – in England or Northern Ireland, with "very few" in Scotland, while Wales had availability only in some regions.

    Home delivery slots for lateral flow tests were also unavailable on Wednesday afternoon.

  • Milica Cosic

    PCRs running dry in England 

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid blamed the shortage on global supply issues, as Omicron forced people to ramp up testing.

    This has left many Brits struggling to get hold of coronavirus tests in the run up to New Year's Eve celebrations.

    It comes after he said New Year's Eve parties could still go ahead but that people should remain cautious and test before they go to gatherings.

    But as people have flocked to the Government portal to access tests, some have been met with disappointment.

    The Health Secretary revealed a global shortage of lateral flow and PCR tests was impacting the UK.

    He set out the situation in a phone call with Tory MP Sir Roger Gale, who added: "A British company that is making them has ramped up its production line fourfold and we are buying the lot, plus anything we can get from anywhere else around the world, but we are competing in a global market."

    Read the article in full here.

  • Milica Cosic

    What happens if you get no lines on a lateral flow?

    You've done your swab and now it's time to put the droplets on the test.

    But what if no lines at all show up on the test?

    If nothing at all happens then the test is void and you should take another one.

  • Milica Cosic

    Explained: A faintly positive line 

    London-based A&E doctor Nathan explained that: “If the faintly positive line appears after the time window, the most likely cause is either that there has been some contamination (e.g. food or drink, or some other very weak contaminant that is causing a false positive), or there are just incredibly low levels of the virus.

    “If it is the latter, and obviously assuming you are asymptomatic at this point, then you are very unlikely to be a transmission risk anyway and so it is of little significance.”

    Although NHS guidance says you do not need to self isolate if your lateral flow test is negative, if you have a faint positive line, Nathan advised to taken extra precuations.

    He suggested to social distance, hand wash and wear your mask and continue testing with LFTs as per NHS guidance.

  • Milica Cosic

    What counts as a positive result on a lateral flow test?

    Taking regular lateral flow tests is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from Covid as it helps stop the spread of the virus.

    Posting a photo of a vaguely positive lateral flow to Instagram, London-based A&E doctor Nathan explained what it could mean.

    He said: “Essentially, if *any* line appears before the end of the interpretation window (check leaflet, usually this is 30 minutes), then this is a *positive* test and you must isolate and book a PCR. 

    “However, if a line appears *after* the interpretation window then this does NOT count as a positive test. You do not need to isolate and you do not need to book a PCR.”

    But if you have symptoms, regardless of the lateral flow test result, you should isolate and book a PCR test, he said.

    A faint positive lateral flow test result Credit: Sun Online
  • Milica Cosic

    BREAKING: Omicron infections rise

    A FURTHER 39,923 Brits have tested positive for the Omicron variant today, bringing the total number of infections to 210,122.

    Hospitalisation levels remain low – and this is a key element in determining further restrictions.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson today urged everyone to come forward for the boosters and 'finish the job'.

    Read the article in full here.

  • Milica Cosic

    A new wave of infections after New Year?

    Professor Peter Openshaw, an immunologist at Imperial College London and SAGE scientist, told MailOnline: "There are many reasons for the apparent decline, a genuine decline being amongst them.'

    "I hope this is good news, but really urge caution."

    He warned, however, data backlogs from Christmas and New Year partying could result in another wave of cases in London.

    Professor Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, added it is "difficult to say" if cases peaked in London, as testing patterns changed over Christmas

    But he said: "London cases will certainly begin to fall eventually, as the virus runs out of people to infect.

    "It's reasonably clear that case numbers in London are at least rising more slowly, but we just can't be sure when the peak is reached – not yet anyway."

  • Milica Cosic

    Has Omicron already peaked in London?

    Analysis of infections in the week before Christmas shows the rise started to flatten off.

    Around 30,000 people in London tested positive on December 20, before that number started to fall.

    This continued for the next two days, forcing the average infection rate to flatten, with cases now already falling in some boroughs.

    The most recent case data, from December 27, showed around 5,000 Londoners had tested positive, although this set is still incomplete.

  • Milica Cosic

    Four key Omicron numbers that could spark more restrictions

    Infections have continued to rise but many people who catch Omicron are reporting cold-like symptoms.

    At the start of this month Boris Johnson revealed the four key numbers that he said would determine if England needed more restrictions.

    1. Vaccines – In a bid to stop Omicron, millions of booster vaccines have been rolled out across the country and health officials have warned that two doses won't protect you – which is why it's imperative everyone gets a booster jab.

    2. Omicron – Cases of the Omicron variant have surged in the last months, but data coming out of South Africa, where it was first detected, indicates that infections have started to slow.

    3. Speed of spread – This is one of the most concerning numbers to look out for as more cases ultimately lead to higher rates of hospitalisations.

    The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said there had been 17,269 additional confirmed cases Omicron reported across the UK yesterday and it is now believed to be responsible for 90 per cent of cases in the UK. In total, there are 177,201 cases of the virus.

    4. Hospitalisations – The number of deaths in England of people with the Omicron variant has risen to 49, according to the UKHSA.
    Hospital admissions in England for people with confirmed or suspected Omicron rose to 668.

  • Milica Cosic

    Lateral flow test shortage

    Home delivery rapid tests have run out for second day in row and could now take three days to arrive.

    Pharmacy stocks have also run low, with some having had no new supplies since last week 

    The Government's website stated that it was not possible to order lateral flow testing kits for home delivery, with a message appearing saying: "Sorry, there are no home delivery slots left for rapid lateral flow tests right now."

  • Milica Cosic

    A return of the travel traffic light system?

    Previous restrictions saw countries placed on a red, amber and green travel list depending on the Covid-19 spread on their shores.

    The levels saw different lengths of isolation imposed – with the harshest involving mandatory quarantine in a hotel.

    Countries often jumped between list levels at the last minute, sparking chaos for travellers stuck abroad.

    Currently, fully-jabbed passengers have to take a test two days before travel to England – and another expensive PCR test up to two days after landing. 

    Red list hotel quarantine is still enforced.

  • Milica Cosic

    Table service and outdoor pints could return

    Pubs and restaurants could once again be closed for indoor service, forcing drinkers to have their pints outside in the January chill.

    Landlords will also have to ensure there's table service to stop punters congregating at the bar.

    Scores of venues last year erected temporary outdoor seating areas for people to dine al-fresco – with some hardcore customers memorably pictured tucking into a full English in the pouring rain.

    But the economic impact of another shotgun lockdown could devastate Britain's already hard-hit hospitality industry.

    Desperate publicans have written to the PM and Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging against new lockdown measures.

    The pair were warned a return to the Rule of Six, table service only or the closure of indoor hospitality would leave many on the brink of closure.

  • Milica Cosic

    Covid restrictions that could return in January

    BORIS Johnson made the decision all Brits were waiting for on Monday – when he confirmed that New Year's Eve could go ahead lockdown-free.

    But Downing Street has been reticent to rule out a lockdown post-January 1, with seven key rules still on the cards.

    These include the return of the dreaded Rule Of Six for indoor mixing, table service at pubs – and a law forcing Brits to work from home if they can.

  • Milica Cosic

    Sign up to The Sun's Jabs Army campaign

    The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

    Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

    Boris Johnson has begged millions of people to book their first, second or booster jabs in now to protect them from the virus, admitting that cases of omicron are still rising.

  • Milica Cosic

    Brits urged to get boosted NOW

    BORIS Johnson told the nation today to celebrate New Year "sensibly and cautiously" – and get a booster if they want to keep their freedoms.

    Speaking on a visit to a vaccine centre this morning, the PM insisted: "We're able to proceed in the way that we are. But there is one reason, and one reason only why we're able to do that.

    "And that's because such a huge proportion of the British public have come forward to get vaccinated and particularly to get boosted.

    "We've done about 32 and a half, maybe more million booster jabs. And that is allowing us to year in the cautious way that we are."

    He vowed that everyone in the country will have been offered a booster as promised by the end of the year.

  • Milica Cosic

    Prof backed Boris Johnson's plan to save New Years

    Professor Sir John Bell backed Boris Johnson's decision to save New Year's Eve and introduce NO new lockdown rules yesterday.

    The regius professor of medicine at Oxford University said last year's "horrific scenes" at hospitals where thousands suffered painful deaths from Covid-19 will remain a thing of the of the past.

    Sir John said Britain's vaccine drive is responsible for keeping hospitalisation and death rates low – as the latest analysis shows admissions are DOWN more than 50 per cent in a week.

  • Milica Cosic

    Covid-19 news you may have missed

    • Thousands of Scots prepare to cross the border on New Year’s Eve to escape Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid clampdown;
    • UK daily Covid cases hit record high with 129,471 positive tests – but deaths fall to 18;
    • Third of cancer patients are waiting more than two months to receive treatment;
    • Travel bosses are demanding an end to expensive Covid tests for Brits returning from holidays as Omicron "has already spread".
    • Milica Cosic

      'We want one set of rules for everyone'

      A UK-wide lockdown is still on the cards and measures under consideration include the loathed Rule-of-Six for indoor mixing, The Daily Telegraph reports.

      Other reinforced measures could include outdoor dining only for pubs, restaurants and cafés.

      A Government insider told The Times: "There are big downsides to doing anything regionally and we saw the difficulties they posed when we did it last time.

      "It is difficult for people to understand because of different sets of rules.

      "We want one set of rules for everyone in the country, which is easier to understand."

    • Milica Cosic

      Local lockdowns WON'T return

      Government insiders claim that local lockdowns will NOT be making a comeback but a decision on national restrictions could still be just DAYS away.

      Downing Street has ruled out imposing loathed regional lockdowns – which saw cities' rules change depending on their own Covid data.

      But a UK-wide lockdown is still on the cards, meaning London's rising Covid hospitalisation figures could doom the rest of the UK to a shut down.

      Measures under consideration include the loathed Rule-of-Six for indoor mixing, The Daily Telegraph reports.

    • Milica Cosic

      Can I still have the Covid booster if I have a cold?

      The short answer is yes.

      If you are certain it is not Covid you are suffering with and you are well enough to leave home, you can get your third shot with confidence.

      It might make you feel a bit rougher than if you weren’t ill, but overall it’s perfectly safe – and you can emerge from your sickly funk safe in the knowledge you are protected against coronavirus.

      A cold shouldn’t have an impact on your body’s ability to build an immune response to the flu, even though it is fighting an illness.

      NHS guidance says you should still attend your appointment even if you have a mild illness, including a common cold.

      If you have Covid symptoms, are self-isolating or waiting for your coronavirus test result, you should not attend your appointment.

      It’s easy to rearrange your slot through the booking system.

    • Milica Cosic

      Covid 'isn't going away'

      One expert has said that Covid isn't going away and that in order to live with the virus, isolation should be scrapped.

      Professor Paul Hunter said that while Covid is "not going away", it is "just one virus" that won't be a cause for concern by April 2022.

      Omicron's less-severe symptoms mean infected Brits will eventually "go about their normal lives" with no quarantine at all, Professor Hunter said.

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