IT is clear that testing, as well as vaccinations, will be key to borders re-opening and the start of international travel.
The Government has said its travel taskforce will report back on April 12 with travel abroad starting no earlier than May 17.
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Testing is going to be needed well into the future and a host of companies are coming up with new ways.
This week, ExpressTest opened its latest drive-through testing centre in London’s Brent Cross Shopping Centre. It offers Fit To Fly certificates required by many airlines and countries.
And British Airways has announced a partnership with the Qured testing company that will provide rapid Covid tests you take abroad so you have the required negative test to return home.
Sun Travel Editor Lisa Minot tried them out.
ExpressTest drive-through centre
IN the good old days, preparing for your summer holiday involved buying suntan lotion and swimwear. In the post-pandemic world, it’s a lot more complicated.
But one company trying to make the tests easier to access is ExpressTest.
This week it opened its latest drive-through testing centre in a car park at the Brent Cross shopping centre in north London.
The company has already set up testing centres at Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham airports as well as sports club grounds in Cardiff, Burnley, Leeds, Northampton, Reading and Southampton.
The new site at the UK’s first and oldest shopping centre offers UK government-approved PCR and lateral flow tests with Fit To Fly certificates for those leaving the country as well as Test To Release for those returning. Tests are from £80 for PCR and £50 for lateral flow.
Quick and simple
It is also looking to soon start providing the Day Two and Day Eight tests required by the Government for those returning to the UK during lockdown.
With four lanes, the new drive-through is, at full capacity, capable of conducting 384 tests per day with 95 per cent of those getting their results within 24 hours, although they do warn it can take up to 48 hours.
I booked my test in advance on the company’s website. You simply choose the test you require, pay and are sent a confirmation email with a QR code to show when you arrive on site.
On arrival at the well-signposted site, marshalls first checked my code then directed me to a booth under a covered marquee.
Driving up, my code was zapped once more before the test.
Remaining in my car, with just the window down, the tester talked me through the process and within several uncomfortable minutes, the deed was done.
Within five minutes of arrival, I was on my way. It was well organised, quick and simple.
Just over 24 hours later, my results arrived via email confirming a negative test with a Fit To Fly certificate attached which I could show if I was to be travelling anywhere!
BA Qured tests to take away
WITH all passengers arriving in the UK needing to show a negative Covid test, this British Airways one is a cheap and easy solution.
You take the rapid antigen test kit with you and are advised how to self-administer the test by a professional via video call. The government- approved testing company, Qured, will then verify your results and, if Covid-free, issue you with a negative test certificate that is accepted by the UK.
It will also be a huge help to those travelling to areas where there may be limited access to testing centres.
To trial the test, which costs a discounted £33 for BA passengers, I had to create an account with Qured online.
Visiting its website, I selected a “Return to England” test and the lateral flow device antigen test option. Tests are delivered to your address the next day.
My test kit arrived promptly and I was then able to go on the website and book an appointment with one of their health advisers.
Normally, I would be doing this from outside the UK before heading back but with us all in lockdown, the video call took place from my home office.
At the allotted interview time, I clicked on a link and was connected instantly with a friendly adviser who confirmed my details and then took me through the kit.
Having poured a testing solution into the provided vial, I was then advised how to carry out the nose and throat swab. After my first experience at the drive-through testing site, I was able to complete that with very little problem.
You then insert the swab in the testing liquid and add a couple of drops of the fluid to a well in a rapid test cartridge that looks similar to a home pregnancy kit.
My adviser made sure I did the test correctly at every stage.
Within five minutes a red line had appeared and, after ten minutes, I took a picture of the test on my phone — with my photo ID next to it — and emailed it to the testing company.
Half an hour later, I had confirmation of a negative test and a certificate was emailed to me that I could download.
With British Airways, this could then be downloaded to its new Fit To Fly app where all the required documentation for your travel can be stored.
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