U.K. Runs Out of Home Covid-19 Tests Online in Rush to Fight Omicron | Tech News

UK runs out of home Covid-19 tests online in rush to fight Omicron

Rapid at-home Covid-19 tests are currently unavailable on the UK government website amid high demand as Omicron rises.

| Updated on: Dec 14 2021, 08:30 IST
“There are no more home tests available,” UK government website message reads on Covid-19 home tests. (Bloomberg)
“There are no more home tests available,” UK government website message reads on Covid-19 home tests. (Bloomberg)

Rapid at-home Covid-19 tests are currently unavailable on the U.K. government website amid high demand after the government encouraged the public to test daily and to book a booster vaccine shot. Efforts to order a pack of seven lateral flow tests via the U.K. government website on Monday prompted a message: “There are no more home tests available.” The website advised users to try again later or go back and book a test site appointment instead. 

A U.K. Health Security Agency spokesperson said ordering lateral flow tests was “temporarily suspended to fulfil existing orders” due to “exceptionally high demand.”

“Everyone who needs a lateral flow test can collect test kits -- either at their local pharmacy, some community sites and some schools and colleges.”

The U.K. has ramped up restrictions, testing and vaccination programs in recent days in response to the spread of the omicron variant. All British adults are now eligible for a booster shot before the end of December. 

Vaccinated contacts of people with Covid in England have been told to test daily instead of entering self-isolation, to work from home if possible and to wear masks in indoor spaces. 

Asked about the reports of shortages, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that there was a “ready supply” of lateral flow tests. “If you can't get one online for any reason, then there are ample supplies in the shops,” he said. 

Ryanair's Twitter Jab Mocks Boris Johnson's Christmas Party

Ryanair Holdings Plc dove headlong into the controversy over illicit government parties, ripping U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet in a Twitter post over the alleged flouting of social-distancing rules.

The discount carrier's social-media team on Monday tweeted an image that listed mock government responses to coronavirus alert levels, ranging from “Small gathering with wine and cheese” to “Full on rave.”

The post was retweeted almost 7,000 times and generated more than 500 replies. Some web users were aghast, calling Ryanair inappropriate or insensitive to the real suffering caused by Covid. Others applauded the Irish airline for using levity to point out government hypocrisy.

“On one level this is unprofessional. On another it's showing what a shocking state our government is in when companies can openly mock them,” said Twitter user Alan1975. “They must be confident that most of the public will be in agreement with them. Time for change.”

Irreverent Stance

The broadside isn't totally out of the ordinary for Ryanair, whose outspoken Chief Executive Officer Michael O'Leary has excoriated government officials over their handling of the Covid crisis. He also compared the bailout of Deutsche Lufthansa AG to a “drunken uncle at the end of a wedding, drinking from all the empty glasses.”

Ryanair's social media team is often irreverent, though as users pointed out, the company also accepted government aid after criticizing handouts to competitors.

Johnson has come under scrutiny over alleged festivities in Downing Street at the height of Covid-19 restrictions in 2020. Simon Case, the U.K.'s top civil servant, is investigating whether the alleged gatherings broke social-distancing rules, including a virtual quiz in which Johnson took part.

A spokesman for Ryanair declined to comment on the tweet. The company was among the airlines that asked the U.K. for economic support over the weekend as new travel bans choke off demand.

On Sunday, Johnson said that the U.K. faces an emergency over the omicron variant and announced an accelerated booster program to get the country through the crisis.

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First Published Date: 14 Dec, 07:56 IST