Passengers traveling from Heathrow to Hong Kong on October 20, were the first to experience COVID-19 tests. Yes, the UK Heathrow airport is the first to start testing for coronavirus in the country. People are now going through rapid tests before allowed to check-in.
The passengers have to pay 80 pounds to get their COVID-19 test results within one hour. Thus, they have to reach the airport much before boarding time. The practice will help airports stay safe for the ones who test negative.
UK Heathrow Airport becomes first to offer COVID testing
With the help of the company Collinson, the UK could start this initiative. Currently, they are in talks with the Italy government to start the same there. Many countries have agreed that the UK is a growing risk for travelers. Many going from the UK are facing restrictions due to the high number of cases.
Authorities in Hong Kong need people to show their negative test results taken in the last 72 hours for flights from London. Heathrow is easing the process by providing rapid saliva swab test at Terminals 2 and 5. The method is called Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification or LAMP test. Airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, and British Airways, to provide the same to customers.
The chief executive of the aviation trade body in the UK, Tim Alderslade, said that he wants the test costs to be lesser. He said that it is competitive to charge 80 pounds for business passengers. They are trying to bring the cost down to 50 to 60 pounds.
New confidence to travel again
LAMP test is faster than a PCR test, that has a strong presence in the NHS. This is because they don’t need to send the samples to the lab. Collinson admitted that the LAMP test is less sensitive compared to the PCR test. Moreover, the LAMP test is much better compared to any other quick option. For example, the antigen test.
David Evans, the chief executive of Collinson, said that health screening is the new stage for flying. The only thing passengers need to do is reach one hour before the given time. The man said that the process gives confidence to people to travel as they are secure from COVID. He also said that this would make travel easier like before.
Collinson is a part of Swissport and hopes that they will soon be able to open new routes from the UK. People reaching Italy from the UK also need to prove negative reports of COVID-19 before boarding or take a test there.
It is important to know that the UK Heathrow airport testing is not enough for people traveling to some places. For example, the tests are not available for going to Cyprus, Bermuda, or Bahamas. These places also need proof that the people coming from the UK are negative. They have to go through a PCR test from the labs for traveling to these places.
What to expect?
The testing facility at the UK Heathrow airport is not for people flying into Heathrow. It is only for the ones traveling from Heathrow to other places. Thus, this means if people are coming to the UK from “risk countries,” one has to go through their two-week quarantine period.
Collinson has installed another testing facility for arrivals during summers. But this has not been used by the travelers as yet. This is because the government hasn’t given the backing for such testing till now.
The ministers will sit and discuss the same in November and might send out formal approval. They might allow people coming into the UK to go through a paid test after one week of quarantine.
On October 19, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary confirmed that the government is in discussions with the US Department of Homeland Security to bring a new system for carrying out multiple tests.
The government is also trying to go through another system by which travelers can take one test two days before flying to the UK and another one on arrival. This process will help people avoid quarantine completely when reaching the UK. However, there isn’t any clear intimation about how soon this can start as it requires international cooperation.