Government trebles delivery of lateral flow tests ahead of schools return, says Nadhim Zahawi

·2-min read

The Government has ramped up its delivery of lateral flow tests ahead of the new school term, the Education Secretary said.

The move comes after widespread shortages over the festive period which saw London pharmacies left with dwindling supplies amid unprecedented demand for tests.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday ministers had “trebled the deliveries” of the rapid Covid tests “from about 300,00 to 900,000 a day”.

“The supply will absolutely be there,” he insisted.

The Education Secretary also suggested people struggling to get lateral flow tests “should just refresh” their webpage.

Mr Zahawi confirmed he had organised a separate supply of tests for schools ahead of children’s return to the classrooms in order for them to “feel safe in class”.

It comes after he announced further measures on Sunday including pupils taking lateral flow tests twice a week upon return to school.

New restrictions include face masks being required to be worn in classrooms by second school students.

Mr Zahawi said he hoped guidance that secondary school children should wear masks in the classroom again would not be in place “for a day longer than we need it”.

He said the decision had been made on recommendation by the UK Health and Security Agency.

The Education Secretary told Times Radio: “With Omicron, because it’s so infectious, we want to make sure that we give you as many tools to be able to make sure that education is open.”

But he admitted it was “more challenging, of course, to deliver education with masks on in the classroom”.

He said: “This is an aerosol-transmitted virus and if you’re wearing a mask, if you’re asymptomatic, then you’re less likely to infect other people.”


The Christmas period saw unprecedented demand for Covid tests as many tried to follow guidance by testing before socialising with loved ones.

But the Government’s website and many pharmacies across the UK were left with “patchy” supply issues due to the huge demand.

It saw the chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies warn the lack of tests in pharmacies was a “huge” problem as people were requesting them every five minutes over the Christmas period.

The chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies has said patients are often unable to find the Covid-19 tests in pharmacies because of low and “inconsistent” supplies.

Nearly three quarters of pharmacies in London had no lateral flow tests in store on December 30, according to a survey by the Standard.

Pharmacies in the capital saw their stock plummet just days before New Year’s Eve.

The Standard spoke to 50 pharmacies across all of London boroughs on Wednesday afternoon, with just 12 saying they had tests in store at 4.30pm.

Many warned they would likely run out imminently amid high demand.

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