New travel tests will be as expensive as PCR for British tourists – expert warning

Simon Calder says current UK travel rules are a ‘mess’

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Grant Shapps announced that day two PCRs would be scrapped in the latest Government travel update. The date for the change is as yet unknown but it is hoped it will be brought in before October half term.

A travel source told Travel Weekly: “The danger is these tests have to be supervised or incorporate the cost of a follow-up PCR test if the traveller tests positive.

“A supervised lateral flow test might cost as much as a non-supervised PCR test, particularly if the cost of a follow-up PCR test is shared.”

Day two PCR tests cost around £60 with high street retailer Boots selling one for £85. Costs from private companies can be even higher.

The Government is yet to announce whether day two lateral flow tests will have to be supervised to ensure tourists aren’t cheating on the results.

Grant Shapps told MPs: “I look forward to the expansion of lateral flow tests, perhaps into supermarkets.”

In an interview with Sky News he said: “I noticed actually in Ireland that Lidl came along with a pack that they’re selling in their stores in the republic there for 25 euros and you get five lateral flow tests.”

However, tests from Lidl and other major supermarkets may not meet the news of the travel industry due to tighter restrictions on tracking passengers.

One travel expert said: “The test result has to match up to the Passenger Locator Form or it defeats the purpose.

“That precludes a mass-market test provider, so they’re looking at existing test providers and the cost won’t be as cheap.”

Every traveller must complete a passenger locator form before arriving in the UK, even after October 4. It is feared tests from supermarkets could not be linked up with the forms.

Travel experts are also becoming frustrated as they wait for further information on the testing regulations.

The expert said: “We’re awaiting details of how it will work. The delay is due to ensuring systems work and operate together.

“They keep saying we’ll hear soon – we hope in a matter of days. The point that we need this in time for the school half-term has hit home.”

Although the Government has not confirmed that day two lateral flow tests will need to be supervised, there has as yet been no denial.

Scientists have expressed fears that unsupervised lateral flows could allow new variants to be introduced to the UK.

Professor Denis Kinane, founding scientist of Cignpost test, told “Now that the Government is set on replacing gold standard PCR tests with the cheaper Lateral Flow Test for arrivals, it is critical to ensure the system will detect worrying new Covid variants.

“If we are to use Lateral Flow, let’s make it as robust as we can, which means the swabbing should be administered by a capable agent and the authenticity of the individual being tested should be verified.

“Any positives picked up in this way should be reported to PHE and the individual retested and genomically sequenced by the NHS.”

The Government said an update on the testing rules will be announced soon and will be in place before the end of October.

Pre-departure tests before arrival in the UK will be scrapped from October 4 and the green and amber lists will also be merged on that date.

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