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The UK is running very, very low on PCR tests now, too

First it was lateral flows, now it’s PCR tests that are running out on the NHS website

Sophie Dickinson
Written by
Sophie Dickinson

On Monday, the UK government appeared briefly to run out of lateral flow tests, as we collectively panicked about rising Omicron case rates and the threat of Christmas being cancelled. Now it appears that same sense of urgency to get tested has continued into today, as PCR test availability has also got a little patchy.

LFTs might be the easier way to test. Order on the NHS website, take a quick swab of your nose and throat, read the results in 15 minutes. But PCRs are seen as the more accurate of the two. Experts say that there might actually be 200,000 cases of Omicron in the country right now, so it’s no surprise loads of people want to find out whether they’re one of them. 

This morning, it was impossible to book an in-person PCR test anywhere in England. In every region, from the East Midlands to Yorkshire and the Humber, a message read ‘none available’. Luckily, though, new appointments were quickly added and it seems as if people from most areas – apart from London – have the option to book again. 

The surge comes as new rules were put in place this week: face coverings are now compulsory in most public spaces (excluding hospitality) and people are encouraged to work from home ‘if they can’. From Wednesday, bigger venues will be legally required to check the Covid status of visitors, too. 

Want to find out which restrictions might be next? Here’s everything we know about ‘Plan C’.

And here’s how to get a booster this week (and help stop another lockdown).

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