The new normal for our travel routine in 2020 has to do with wearing a mask and being quarantined. In the bid to get back on track and travelling, the "negative test on arrival" policy has been adopted by several countries around the world to ensure visitors have a safe and quarantine free stay which can reduce the risk of residents being infected.
It should be emphasised that it is not just about booking for a test, there are several elements to consider like; what type of test is available, the period you take the test before arriving at your destination and finally, those tests which are accepted by your desired country. This guide has been put together to help you easily navigate your way through your COVID-19 test for travel.
The Different Types of Tests
There are several options to choose from when it comes to taking a Covid test, using the most suitable is what matters. They are briefly explained below:
The PCR test, which is short for Polymerase Chain Reaction test is one which is required by most countries. These results come from a laboratory examination and therefore make them the most reliable test.
It is made available to you through the NHS, which can be taken in private clinics or at home testing if you have symptoms. Furthermore, it is important to note that the NHS testing service should not be used for travel-related testing.
This test has to do with taking saliva samples rather than an in-nose swab, results which could come out positive or negative are made available faster. On arrival, these tests are less likely to be accepted when providing test results.
An antibody test is only used to show if you had the virus in the past; it is not useful for the purpose of travelling. Though both the PCR virus test and antibody test are mentioned on the U.K. government website, the PCR virus test is the most important for travellers and is required by many countries on entering.
Destinations With Test Requirement For Entry
The surest way to know this is by surfing the internet for the official UK website. It shows the requirements of the country you intend on visiting. It should be noted that a PCR test is the required test to be taken. Countries which have strict rules will require the test be done by a health professional and not just some in house self kit.
In the bid for travel requirements to be met, the UK government stresses for the NHS test not to be used.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Test Before Travelling?
Most travel destinations ask that you take your tests within 72 hours at most of your departure from the UK. Although for destinations like the Maldives, the number of hours is higher; 96 hour. It's simple; all you need to do is get the test done and your result out with enough time to spare. It is best to take your test at least 72 hours out from your flight to get your results before the flight.
Best Places To Get A Test
On the UK government website, NHS test is not used for travels abroad. The test should be done early enough to get the results out before your flight. If your destination permits you to take an at-home test, then there are a myriad of options to choose from ranging from online options to private surgery centres. Below are options of online ordering and in-person collection which is wildly used, it'll help in narrowing down your options.
This goes for £134 and must be pre-booked online. Tests are done at four pharmacies in London. Feedback was gotten that results were gotten back in 36 hours and not the 72 hours as advised.
This in-clinic COVID test for travel is £195. 15% discount is given to those flying with British Airways, and the results are promised within 48 hours. It comes with an extra travel certificate which costs nothing at all; they also offer clinical at home guide test, which also goes for £195.
At-home tests (Remote tests)
Lloyd's pharmacy online Doctor
This goes for £119. "Results came back 48 hours from receipt of mailed test so 72 hours from me taking it" was the testimony by Alun L, From TPG Lounge.
With its cost at £185 and a 15% discount for those flying with British Airways. However, it should be noted that this test is not accepted by every country.
Cost is £120. A positive testimony from James S. goes "Tests arrived the next day, we did the test same day, sent back the same day, got the results very early next morning at 2:30".
Tests to avoid for now
- Harley Street Clinic
This test is not reliable and consistent.
Though walk-in tests are carried out in 50 shops across the UK and are super quick for just 12 minutes, yet the pharmacy tests on the Boots website for pre-flight testing service is not approved.
- Heathrow Airport testing
The pre-departure tests offered to passengers going to Italy, and Hong Kong are not PCR Tests which makes it unlikely to be accepted by any of those countries.
COVID tests should not be treated with nonchalance. It is something of the utmost importance. A Covid-19 PCR test for travel is a sure bet when done in a clinic by a healthcare professional. It is essential to note that every destination varies in their rules and regulations and it is advised to know them, not only that but to abide by then to ensure a safe, smooth and COVID free journey.
Published by Heidi Walker