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Pressure on PCR labs and lateral flow test kits amid COVID-19 surge

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‘Supersonic rise in infections’

Elsewhere, Israel changed its quarantine and testing policy as part of efforts to save resources and ensure continued protection for vulnerable people.

PCR tests will be earmarked for people aged 60 and over or with weak immune systems, while those at lower risk will be checked with rapid antigen tests, the health ministry said.

“This is a significant change intended to identify risk populations sooner, intervene and prevent severe disease,” ministry director-general Nachman Ash told a news conference.

Until now, those exposed to confirmed with COVID-19 had been required to take official tests. If found to be positive, they were told to submit to police-enforced quarantine rules.

Spain, Portugal and England have also slashed the mandatory isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 amid fears that lengthy quarantines could paralyse economies.

Ireland will drop its requirement for vaccinated arrivals to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test and return to seeking proof of vaccination or recent infection upon entry, Prime Minister Micheál Martin said.

England has also scrapped pre-departure tests for visitors, as well as post-arrival self-isolation and PCR tests, instead favouring lateral flow tests.

France has also eased its restrictions on people travelling to the UK despite an Omicron surge.

A “supersonic” rise in French COVID-19 infections is set to continue in the coming days and there are no signs of the trend reversing, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Health Minister Olivier Veran told parliament on Wednesday that the day’s new cases stood at around 335,000 – a record high.

Reuters

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