Wales to loan four million LFT tests to England amid shortage, Mark Drakeford says
Wales will loan four million Lateral Flow Tests to England amid a shortage there, Mark Drakeford has said.
It comes after UK pharmacies and scientists warned that the lack of LFT tests in England was becoming a “huge” problem, as they were being requested every five minutes to deal with the Omicron surge in cases.
In a statement, Mark Drakeford said that “demand for PCR tests and for lateral flow devices continues to rise and has reached new record levels”.
“Wales has a significant stock of lateral flow tests, sufficient to meet our needs over the weeks ahead,” he said.
“The Health Minister has agreed today to loan a further four million such tests to the English NHS, bringing that mutual aid to 10 million lateral flow tests.
“Distribution of lateral flow test kits through home delivery and pharmacies remains the responsibility of the UK Government and we are working with it, as it increases the capacity of the system.”
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid had earlier said that the UK Government will triple the supply of lateral flow tests to 300 million per month by February, but added that as current shortages persist “we expect to need to constrain the system at certain points over the next two weeks”.
He advised the public should take a test “when engaging in activities that carry the greatest risk, and before coming into contact with people at risk of serious illness”.
Leyla Hannbeck, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, had told BBC Radio 4 that the “scale of the problem is huge because the demand is high, because of the current guidelines”.
“People are doing the responsible thing by wanting to be tested. And we are in the Christmas area of time and the new year is just around the corner and people want to be with family and friends,” she said.
Professor Ravi Gupta, clinical microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, earlier told Sky News the lack of available tests was “a great concern”.
“Because, of course, we already have so many cases that therefore the probability of an individual being in a social environment on New Year’s Eve and being positive, even if they have potentially tested negative in the last 24 hours, is fairly high,” he said.