As we know, with the rates of the COVID-19 cases increasing and decreasing in various areas and advice continually changing almost every week, it isn't easy to make solid travel preparations for now.
However, with the adoption of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, some countries are scaling through the challenge. Travellers are allowed to travel provided they have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a private GP service, typically about 72 hours before departure. These tests have now become a necessity for travel to different destinations which, in addition to their immunity from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office's (FCDO) blanket recommendation against all, but important travel has given them quarantine-free status in either direction.
Therefore, the term 'PCR screening' is probably going to be associated with travel, in the short term at least. Today, we will be discussing what a PCR screening means, its implication for your journey and, of course, how you can obtain one.
A PCR screening is a test carried out to diagnose the presence of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the body via the presence of the RNA or genetic material of the virus. The screening itself is done in a clinic or at home through a swab sample of the throat and nose, with results typically obtained within 24 to 48 hours. You can also book same-day testing, but as expected, it's a bit more expensive.
The majority of travel destinations now demand a negative COVID-19 PCR test as a requirement for access. People who usually have to change timeframes for their trip duration also have to receive the test.
Be sure to confirm the COVID-19 requirements for your travel destination carefully and as the timeframe between undergoing the screening and landing in the destination can be brief. You should know that entry requirements can and often change. For now, the most credible information source we recommend is the FCDO website.
Other kinds of COVID-19 test, including antigen tests, 'TMA' and 'LAMP', usually allow results to be generated more quickly. However, we would largely suggest getting a PCR test, as many destinations are yet to accept these other types for entry, and even if your destination does, some airlines do not. Be sure to check that both your airline and destination accept another type of COVID-19 test if you wouldn't be going for the PCR test.
On average, PCR screening costs around £120 and £200 per individual. The cost may however be higher if you want a same-day service from a private laboratory. Keep in mind that you can NOT obtain a PCR test through the NHS.
There are currently plenty of PCR test providers for intra-country travel, and you can get a variety of options by doing a quick search online through the internet. There are primarily two ways of getting a test:
1. At-home test option: Here, a testing kit is delivered to you from the clinic to obtain a sample at home. The sample is then sent to a lab for analysis, and results are delivered to you through an app or via email - typically within 24-48 hours of getting to the lab.
In-clinic test option: The second testing option is for you to visit a hospital where a trained clinician takes a sample, which is subsequently sent to a laboratory by the hospital with the results sent through an app or by email. This option is typically more costly, although there is a reduced chance of your sample being taken erroneously - plus you get your results more quickly.
Currently, we would recommend going for the second method above. Yes, it can be more expensive, but it provides more reliable results which are usually received more quickly.
When using a home sampling apparatus, you must observe diligent care to ensure that the test swab is delivered to the post within sufficient time, especially over weekends and periods of back holiday.
In both methods, we implore you to carefully consider how fast results will be sent by your test provider, as well as what the FCDO website says about the specific requirements for your destination. Kindly note that certain places, like Dubai, may reject the results for some home testing/sampling types.
At the London GP Clinic, we provide a range of pre-travel coronavirus PCR test options for travellers willing to visit a clinic in London before departure. We conduct tests at a specialised facility in London, with results being quickly delivered within 4 to 12 hours if you book our same-day service. Our standard service charge is at £155 per individual.
Although this option is comfortable for people living in the area of our London Clinic, London GP clinic is also available to provide a range of other options including chauffeur transfers, meet-and-greet services, and home test kits. For instance, we can transfer you to the airport for your examination, lodge at an airport hotel overnight and then receive the results the following day before you travel.
Recently, several testing centres have been opened at several major UK airports. However, it is generally impossible to undergo a PCR test and receive a same-day result from any airport centres, because of how PCR test results must be analysed. So we advise that you visit the airport some days before your trip, depending on your travel destination's requirements.
Are you planning a holiday travel? Do you want to find out more about the COVID-19 requirements of your destination? Why don't you schedule a visitation with our private doctor today at London GP Clinic? With us, you can be guaranteed reliable, acceptable and quick PCR test results for travel across the country. What are you waiting for? Give us a call now!