I would like a Covid take a look at to journey – how do I book one?

A growing number of countries are demanding negative Covid-19 test results from arriving travelers.

The government’s Global Travel Taskforce will announce “test-to-release” for arrivals in the UK, which can cut the two-week quarantine in half for destinations not on the travel corridor list if tested negative.

However, there is widespread confusion and concern about which tests are required, how long they take, and why they may cost much more than other countries.

Here are the most important questions and answers.

What Covid-19 tests are there?

Tests for coronavirus either look for the presence of the virus in the body or a previous response from your immune system to the virus. If more is known about Covid-19, especially immunity, an antibody test that shows you were previously infected may be relevant.

Currently, all pre-departure testing requirements are focused on the present rather than the past.

What is a Covid-19 PCR test?

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The gold standard and standard NHS test is the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which wipes material from the throat or the top of the nostrils. It is also known as the RNA, genetic, molecular, viral detection, or swab test, although these terms can be applied to non-PCR tests.

This sample is then processed to try to detect genetic material in the virus called RNA, which will indicate the presence of Covid-19. It is a complex and time-consuming process performed in laboratories where a solution known as a reagent is added to the sample and the reaction is carried out in a series of steps of alternating temperature using a thermal cycler. The idea is to make billions of copies of the RNA to make it detectable.

The “science” part alone usually lasts 12 hours. Since the samples must be transported to the laboratory and carefully processed, it can take much longer to get a result.

What is a LAMP test for coronavirus?

Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) tests use similar swabs, but do not require an expensive and time-consuming thermal cycler. They can be processed on site. For this reason, Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with Swissport and Collinson, selected the technology for its test centers in Terminal 2 and Terminal 5.

The downside: it’s not as accurate as PCR. While proponents say a second LAMP test can largely eliminate false positives, host countries are concerned about false negatives – that is, travelers infected with coronavirus even though they tested negative.

So PCR tests are the norm. They have been used throughout the coronavirus pandemic from the Channel Island of Jersey, which makes them available for arrivals free of charge.

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When do I have to take the test?

It all depends on where you are going. Each country sets its own time frame, usually the number of hours that are allowed to elapse between the time of the test and your departure or arrival at the destination.

You are usually expected to receive a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival – as required by Spain and Barbados, among others. Given the length of a flight to the Caribbean and the airport palaver, the time window for Barbados is reduced to around 60 hours before departure.

Can I get a test through the NHS?

No. Tests made available free to the public that suspect they may be infected should not be used for travel purposes. Conversely, if you are concerned that you might have contracted coronavirus, get an NHS test rather than one offered to travelers who are believed to be negative.

How do I find one?

If family or friends can recommend a contact, then go for it. You can ask a long-established travel health provider like Fleet Street Clinic in central London, Nomad (with locations in London, Bristol, Cardiff and Manchester), and Masta (which has dozens of pharmacies).

In addition, there are many other established private healthcare providers that have professional Covid-19 testing programs in place. While researching this article, The Independent obtained insights from Midland Health in Birmingham and CityDoc, Doctap, the Harley Street Health Center and London General Practice in the capital.

An established, doctor-led practice is likely to be both more professional and more expensive than a new venture that is leading in price. They are using the highest medical test available with the best possible accuracy ratings.

They also know the certification that the goal requires. The best analogy I have is with passport photos. Each country has its own determination of size and other variables. A professional testing organization like a passport photo specialist has a clear idea of ​​what is required.

Some countries insist on tests performed by a laboratory approved by Ukas, the UK’s national accreditation body.

It’s also worth checking out the reviews: if a provider is regularly returning late results, customers will likely be bleeding online.

What does the test include?

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Many people find the smear procedure uncomfortable and uncomfortable even though it is over quickly. The throat swab can make you gag while the nasal swab feels intrusive and alarming. Believe it or not, everything is desirable. If a healthcare professional performs the swab, it is very likely that they will be targeting material that may contain RNA.

Self-test kits are available – however, there is a concern that untrained individuals or their partners may withdraw from the required in-depth exam.

Nomad has an interesting twist on the self-test where a doctor makes a video call to talk the subject through the test.

How much will it cost?

More than you’d like, but since it opens up travel opportunities, tens of thousands believe it’s worth it.

If you go to a clinic and get a result within 48 hours, for example, it will likely cost £ 150-200 or more. Clinics offer a number of options, with some bundles in certification and a letter from a doctor confirming your fitness to travel.

Self-test kits sent to your home by courier are cheaper – typically £ 125 – but have a number of potential drawbacks. First, the option not to take the test; Next, the time spent on the delivery process can get dangerously shortened within the allowable timeframe.

A clinic is also likely to have close relationships with the laboratory, which can be helpful when time is of the essence.

Do countries offer it on arrival?

While pre-departure testing makes sense, some countries are happy with a test on arrival – and may even provide it for free. From the traveller’s point of view, this is generally an easier perspective – as long as the test turns out to be negative.

The advice of the Foreign Office for Your Destination should contain such information.

Dubai offers PCR swab tests on arrival for passengers from the UK and Germany. “If you take a test at the airport, you must stay in your hotel or residence until you get the test result,” says Emirates.

Those traveling to Italy can take a free test upon arrival instead of getting one beforehand. Travelers must self-isolate in their hotel until they receive their result (around 24 hours). Some airports offer quick tests. The results are available within an hour. Passengers are expected to wait at the airport for the result.

Smaller airports may not offer testing facilities. Arrivals must be tested at another location within 48 hours of entering Italy.

What if I don’t get the result on time?

There is a risk of being denied boarding the flight to your destination and potentially losing travel expenses. Therefore, before committing, it is important to speak with the clinic about the schedule and arrangements to deliver the results on time.

Some offer a “money-back guarantee” – but only for the cost of the test. Getting a £ 150 test refund is of no consolation if you’ve just lost a £ 1,000 vacation.

At a time when laboratory resources in the UK are at full capacity and in many cases NHS testing is a priority, travelers must take a time risk as long as the PCR test remains the required standard. The risk cannot be insured.

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I have friends in Italy who pay only € 20 for a test and get results in an hour – why do tests in the UK take so long and cost so much?

You will almost certainly get a different type of test with a lower success rate. The cost of using a laboratory is high, and the price of reagents is increasing rapidly around the world. Expanding staff to meet deadlines is also expensive.

When I booked my trip, no test was necessary. Can I get my vacation company or travel insurer to pay for it?

No. It is always the responsibility of the traveler to comply with the regulations set by the destination.

The UK government has promised “Test and Release” to cut the quarantine in half. What tests are required?

This much belated proposal by the Global Travel Taskforce requires private testing. The idea will be that after five days or more of self-isolation, arrivals in the UK can be tested for coronavirus and, if negative, re-join the community.

When will tests become cheaper and less annoying?

From the travel industry’s point of view, this is the billion dollar question. A wide variety of less intrusive, complex, and expensive technologies are available, generally including saliva or needle-stick blood tests.

The test used for mass testing in Liverpool is called “Lateral Flow”. This is a swab test that gives results in less than an hour.

Some proponents claim that these alternatives are almost as reliable as PCR testing. Tourism dependent nations can lower the bar to stimulate business and accept less stringent testing.

The executive director of a leading private clinic told The Independent, “We expect some airlines and destinations will switch to rapid antigen testing over time, similar to Liverpool.”

But as the world waits for international agreement on a test and travel protocol, the traveler faces high costs and difficulties to see at least part of the world.

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