Brits warned ‘a test from yesterday is not enough’ amid Omicron chaos

AN EXPERT has warned "a test from yesterday is not enough" for Brits seeing friends and family over Christmas amid the rapid spread of Omicron. 

At-home lateral flow tests can reveal if you are carrying Covid within 30 minutes with a high degree of reliability.

While your test may show a negative result, a mere hours later it could be positive, so experts are pleading with Brits to test just before meeting family.

Professor Irene Petersen, an epidemiologist who led the UCL research on lateral flow devices told The Independent: “This provides a quick way of checking in real-time, without the inherent delays of PCR testing, whether or not you are infected and infectious. 

“You should be aware that you may switch from being noninfectious to infectious within hours.

He added: “A test from yesterday is not enough,”

“We should consider a negative LFT as a ‘flashing amber light.’”

It comes as the PM told Brits to get their booster jabs as soon as they can, after long snaking queues were seen at vaccine centres across the country.

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Menawhile Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at University of Warwick said: “The mantra should be ‘flow before you go’ – we must encourage the responsible use of LFTs before people go out to mix with others." 

The Sun is also urging readers to sign up to the Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.

Billy Quilty, an infectious disease epidemiologist at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also says that lateral flow tests should be taken just before you go out and no sooner.

Even hours before may be too early, Mr Quilty warned.

He posted an image of four lateral flow tests he had taken on Twitter.

Two tests were taken in the morning and at lunch time, which were both negative. 

But by the same evening, there was a very faint positive result.

The next morning it was clearly positive – showing how rapidly the tests can produce a different result.

Dr Quilty wrote: “A demo of how fast you can turn positive. Do LFTs *just* before meeting up.”

The Government advises taking lateral flow tests whenever you are going to an event where you could spread Covid to other people.

People are taking them before Christmas parties, seeing their family, shopping or a trip to the pub.

Under new rules, people who live with an Omicron case must take a lateral flow every day for a week.

But with so much need for the easy and quick tests, demand has outstripped supply.

This week there has been huge pressure on the system leaving many missing out on getting lateral flow tests.

The chief of the UK Health and Security Agency, Dr Jenny Harries, said there were enough tests, just not enough drivers to deliver them.

It was announced that from Saturday, an agreement with Royal Mail to broaden capacity meant that double the amount of tests would be delivered every day, to 900,000.

Lateral flow devices don’t pick up every infection. They will sometimes produce a “negative” result when someone is infected.

Experts say even if you get a negative result but have Covid symptoms, you should not socialise until you’ve done more tests – you should always get a PCR test if you have symptoms. 

Despite not being entirely reliable, lateral flows are still useful for identifying cases.

They rarely give a positive result to someone who is truly negative.

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The Omicron variant is spreading so dramatically across the UK that Covid cases hit another record high yesterday.

Prof James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, and Professor of Structural Biology, University of Oxford, said: “Omicron is now making its presence felt in the number of cases, unfortunately this is just the start. 

“Triple vaccination provides very strong protection against infection and thus viral spread. Boosters take around one to two weeks to give their effect. Speed is thus important.

“The wave of Omicron will cause less hospitalisations and deaths per 1000 infections than Delta did, simply because we have more vaccination (booster) now.

“South African data points to Omicron causing fewer hospitalisations and deaths per 1000 infections than previous waves – however it is early days and South Africa is crucially a younger country.

“The bad news is that Omicron can infect many more people per day in the UK than Delta has been able to. This on its own will cause disruption as Professor Whitty said.”

Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said earlier this week that even if Omicron proves to be milder, it causes more infections, and therefore hospitalisations are set to increase.

He warned yesterday that cases are only going to get higher from now, and the peak will arrive sooner than previous waves.

But boosters are “critical” to dampen the severity of the next wave, he said, as Brits are urged to come forward for their jab as soon as possible.

The Sun’s Jabs Army is calling on thousands more volunteers to sign up and get people their top-up shots with pace.

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