Travel: Simon Calder discusses taking PCR tests
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Travellers face increased costs for holidays abroad, due to mandatory Covid testing as a required condition for travel. The head of one of the UK’s biggest diagnostic firms said companies may be failing to deliver the service they claim to provide. But where exactly can you find a Government-approved Covid test for travel?
More than 80 companies have been issued two-strike warnings for displaying lower prices on the UK Government website than are available at checkout.
The so-called “cowboy” providers were warned following a review by ministers into misleading costs.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 82 providers have been issued two-strike warnings – equating to around 18 percent of the companies on the Government’s approved list.
The Government has faced significant pressure to intervene amid allegations of exploitative behaviour and excessive pricing in the private testing market.
The DHSC said the true costs of these tests have now been updated and companies will be removed from the approved list if they are shown to advertise misleading prices.
A total of 57 companies have been removed from the list after they were found to no longer exist or do not provide tests for individuals on day two and day eight after returning from abroad.
Speaking about the review on Monday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is absolutely unacceptable for any private testing company to be taking advantage of holidaymakers and today’s action clamps down on this cowboy behaviour.
“Fifty-seven firms will be removed from the gov.uk list and a further 82 will be given a two-strike warning – if they advertise misleading prices ever again, they’re off.
“We are also introducing regular spot checks this week to make sure all private providers follow the rules and meet our high standards of transparency.”
Any company accused of price discrepancies or unreliability must take action within three days, Sajid Javid said, or they will be removed from the government website.
The NHS official test and trace package for international arrivals has been reduced from £88 to £68 for green or fully vaccinated amber arrivals, and from £170 to £136 for two tests for amber arrivals who are not fully vaccinated.
PCR testing is a required condition for travel for Britons.
Anyone travelling abroad must take a test before they travel and upon their arrival in the UK.
Depending on the country from which one is returning, the number of tests required to be taken changes – as well as one’s vaccination status.
Despite these seemingly simple rules, the travel requirements have been subject to a series of complaints.
Do you have to pay for a Covid pass [INSIGHT]
PCR tests: Government ‘clamps down’ on ‘predictable Covid rip-off’ [EXPLAINER]
Travel tests: Cheapest day two and eight PCR test providers [ANALYSIS]
One Covid testing company co-owned by a former Labour justice minister has been accused of failing to deliver kits and test results, as well as not refunding customers.
The company, RT Diagnostics, is one of hundreds of firms which won a spot on the Government-approved list for PCR tests.
However, the company which lists Shahid Malik and Calderdale councillor Faisal Shoukat are listed as shareholders in RT Diagnostics and Real Time Diagnostics, stands accused of failing to live up to promises.
Several individuals told the Guardian they had been forced to call the NHS which can offer free testing for travellers free of charge in exceptional circumstances.
The company denied the claims – saying cases of lost kits absorbed all the costs and it refunded customers 100 percent of the time.
Researchers have developed a new COVID-19 test which could provide results in less than 10 minutes.
The test has been hailed as a potential means to transform the international travel industry.
A team from the University of Birmingham has found that the test, called RTF-EXPAR, is “just as sensitive” in detecting the virus as PCR tests, and detects low levels of COVID-19 – which lateral flow or antigen tests cannot.
Results can be delivered in less than 10 minutes meaning they could easily be used at airport terminals.
Professor Tim Dafforn, who is working on the project, said: “An ideal test would be one that is both sufficiently sensitive and speedy – our test, called RTF-EXPAR, achieves this goal.”
Where can you find Government-approved Covid tests for travel?
You can find a test provider based on cost and whether they are available in your region from the Government website, here.
Find a coronavirus (COVID-19) travel test provider if you’re arriving in England
The Government is keen to stress it does not endorse or recommend any specific provider.
Instead, Britons are advised to undertake their own research about companies and choose the right option for them.
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