Boris Johnson has said there is a “ready supply” of lateral flow tests (LFTs) despite a message on the Government website saying home kits are unavailable.
The website on Monday advised people to “try again later” or to book a coronavirus test site appointment instead.
The Prime Minister was asked about potential supply issues during a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington in west London, and told broadcasters: “They can get those tests, we do have 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.
It has been announced that double-jabbed people identified as a contact of someone with Covid-19 in England will be told to take a daily rapid test for seven days from Tuesday.
New regulations, set to be put to a debate and vote in the Commons this week, could also see the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS app becoming mandatory for entry into clubs and other large gatherings – but with a negative home test as an alternative for the unvaccinated.
One person said on Twitter: “Tried to order a lateral flow test kit and the NHS site says they have no more! What’s going on!”
“The Government’s inability to procure properly and plan for civil contingencies is reckless. Boris Johnson has his priorities in the wrong place.”
Paul Taylor, a 37-year-old pharmacy technician from Leeds, told the PA news agency he was “frightened” at the prospect of being unable to order any lateral flow tests.
“(I have) only recently started to socialise normally (going to the gym, attending big events etc.).. .Doing regular LFTs has relieved the anxiety of potentially passing anything on that I’ve felt throughout the pandemic.”
“I’m frightened because without tests I only have two choices: 1) go out but risk passing on the virus to other people or 2) stay in and return to self-imposed lockdown.”
Jessica Keogh, a 32-year-old executive assistant from London, told PA she had run out of lateral flow tests and was unable to order more.
“It’s actually my worry that I won’t be able to get any before Christmas and I will worry about being able to visit my family”, she said.
However, there appeared to be no problems with the availability of PCR home test kits.
The UK Health Security Agency said that “due to exceptionally high demand, ordering lateral flow tests on gov.uk has been temporarily suspended to fulfil existing orders”.
They added: “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 Health Secretary had suggested that taking a lateral flow test before attending social events could be sensible.
There were also reports that the website used to book booster vaccines had struggled under the pressure of many more people now being eligible to book their jab.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said 110,000 people booked a booster before 9am on Monday.
But asked how the website would therefore cope with the much higher number of bookings needed, he said: “Across the programme we are increasing our capacity, be it making sure there is further capacity on the site to adapt to the increased demand, or indeed capacity on the ground.”