Travel: Paul Charles warns travel testing is ‘recipe for chaos’
Holidays have been an increasingly complicated affair throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic. New rules come into force tomorrow. “From 4am on Monday, January 18 2021, you must have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test to travel to England,” stated the UK Department for Transport (DfT) in its latest travel advice. “If you do not present proof of a negative test result, you may not be able to board and could be fined £500 on arrival into England.”
The government continued: “You must take the test in the three days before you start your journey to England.
“For example, if you travel on Friday, you must take a test on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.”
So what must anyone abroad and returning to the UK do from tomorrow? “You will need to find a test provider,” said the DfT. “You must make sure that the test provider can meet the standards for pre-departure testing.”
The government detailed that the test must “meet performance standards of greater than or equal to 97 percent specificity, greater than or equal to 80 percent sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.”
“This could include tests such as:
– a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
– an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device.”
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The government has provded contact details for English speaking doctors abroad and offers a list of healthcare providers online.
But what is the specific travel advice for testing in popular holiday destinations France, Italy, Greece, Germany and Portugal?
“You can access tests in France via the French government’s website,” explained the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
“Travellers will then be subject to quarantine measures in place in the UK upon entry.”
For Italy testing, the FCDO said: “Tests for travel can be obtained from a private clinic as well as rapid testing in some pharmacies and, in some regions, drive-in testing is available.
“You are strongly advised to consult the website for the region from which you are travelling as test facilities vary across regions.”
The Foreign Office continued: “You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements.
“You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.”
This Italian government website offers more advice.
For those staying at a hotel or resort in Greece, the FCDO advised checking with your accommodation provider for a list of private doctors.
“If you have arranged your own accommodation you can find details of English speaking, private doctors on our list of healthcare providers,” said the FCDO ( see above).
“For more information, consult the Greek National Public Health Organisation (NPHO) online or via telephone (dial 1135, or 210 521 2054, from within Greece).”
“If you need a COVID-19 test in order to travel, you should arrange to take a private test,” detailed the FCDO.
“Check when you book that the testing service can provide the appropriate COVID-19 test for your destination. You will not need a prescription, but you will have to show your passport and confirmed travel bookings.
“You will have to pay for the test in full. If you have health or travel insurance, check whether it will cover any expense you incur.”
For more information on Portugal covid testing see here.
“You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements,” explained the FCDO.
“You can obtain a COVID-19 test by calling 116 117 to be connected to the local health authorities who will explain testing options across the country (only available in German).
“You should contact the local health authority of the federal state where you are resident, who will be able to provide a list of local test centres.”
See here for more information on covid testing in Germany.
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