Grant Shapps addresses cost of PCR tests for travellers
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From May 17, Britons could find themselves jetting off abroad if the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce report moves ahead as planned. However, passengers will need to follow specific rules set out under the Government’s “traffic light” system, including taking pre- and post-departure tests which often come with eye-wateringly high price tags.
According to Brian Sutton, general secretary of Balpa, the average cost for a gold-standard PCR test comes in at around £120.
For a family of four, the expense could significantly increase the overall cost of a holiday.
This could be set to change though, as private firms work to slash the expense for travellers.
One firm working to do this is Northern Ireland-based Random, which has put forward plans to offer PCR tests for just £60.
It is thought, though, that passengers will only be able to make use of this deal if they book with specific airlines.
Dr Peter FitzGerald, managing director of Randox, said: “In recognition of the needs of both the travel industry and the British public at this unprecedented time, Randox will reduce the all-inclusive cost of PCR testing for those in the UK undertaking international travel to £60 per test.”
According to Randox: “In order to achieve the £60 price, which is limited to those undertaking international travel, purchasers will need to apply a discount code which can initially be obtained from airlines when booking travel.”
In exchange for their money, passengers will be able to order a PCR test kit online, which is delivered to the customer’s home.
They will be able to take the test themselves, before sending it back to the laboratory to be analysed by experts.
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However, the discount is likely to only be available when booking with participating airlines.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “While it is, of course, good news to see a test provider reduce its costs, it’s unhelpful that this comes with strings attached in that passengers may have to book with certain airlines.
“More oversight of testing costs across the board is needed to ensure that testing is affordable to all who need or want to travel abroad, whoever they want to book with.
“The government should look at ways it can work with test providers to reduce the cost of mandatory testing, as many other countries have, to ensure that when international travel resumes, it is safe and affordable for all.”
Cignpost Diagnostics, which has a site at Gatwick Airport, is another firm that offers £60 “gold-standard” PCR tests, though has not set out any additional conditions for travellers to meet in order to make use of the lower price point.
“As lockdown restrictions ease and we look towards a return to international travel, testing will also play an important role in facilitating holidays, business travel and more,” Nick Markham, co-founder of Cignpost Diagnostics told Express.co.uk.
“In order to prevent cross-border community transmission, we must deploy the most effective and accurate method of testing.
“That is why we strongly recommend using the gold standard PCR technology which is 99.9 percent accurate, so the risk of false results is extremely low.
“Protecting our country from importing new and more dangerous variants of Covid must remain the number one priority.”
“There is also much confusion about the time frames and costs of the different tests now available.
“The cost for our gold standard PCR test starts at £60 from our site at Gatwick airport and gives results next day or even within a few hours, making the test fast and extremely reliable.”
According to Mr Markham, the cost of tests is a result of the need for PCR results to be determined via laboratory analysis.
“With international travel comes the risk of importing potentially dangerous variants of concern from overseas and PCR tests allow us to be able to detect not just the viral load of a person but also whether they are carrying a variant of concern into the country,” he continued.
“As we continue to fight coronavirus, we must respond with nuanced and detailed public health measures, this must include the most comprehensive and accurate testing regime, which can only be achieved through the use of gold-standard PCR testing.”
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