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  • NI isolation rules change amid test shortage

     119620402 Reuterscovid

    People in Northern Ireland who get a positive lateral flow test no longer need a PCR test to confirm that result.

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    The Department of Health has said those who receive a positive lateral flow test should assume that they have Covid-19 and self-isolate immediately.

    It comes amid business closures and health service pressures due to staff absences caused by self-isolation.

    Pharmacists have warned the demand for lateral flow tests in Northern Ireland is outstripping supply.

    Northern Ireland has reported 12% of its total number of positive Covid-19 cases since in the start of the pandemic in just the last seven days.

    The rate of transmission, driven by the Omicron surge, has been described as being at an "extraordinary level" by Northern Ireland's chief scientific adviser Prof Ian Young.

    On Wednesday, the Department of Health reported three more Covid-19-related deaths and a further 7,133 cases of coronavirus.

    Pharmacies struggling
    The Department of Health said that there was no shortage of tests available centrally, with one million lateral flow tests being delivered to Northern Ireland in the past 48 hours.

    That includes of number of new types of rapid lateral flow tests.

    But the chairman of Community Pharmacy NI said there were problems getting supplies out from the central store to pharmacies.

    "The supply is dealt with through one of our wholesalers, but they're having to focus on the supply of medicine first and foremost," said Peter Rice.

    "It means each pharmacy only gets one box of lateral flow tests per day and in some cases that box is used up within the first hour or so of getting it."

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