Heathrow Airport in London will supply a speedy coronavirus check to vacationers.
While the UK is struggling to run its national test-and-trace system more efficiently, it’s the first time travelers can get quick coronavirus tests at an airport. Airmen leaving Heathrow Airport in London can get a quick test for £ 80 ($ 104). Starting Tuesday, people traveling to Hong Kong can take a pre-flight test to meet entry requirements there, the airport said.
The service is initially offered for four weeks and must be booked by passengers in advance. The tests are done by private nurses, with results expected within an hour.
Heathrow, the UK’s largest airport, has urged the government to offer more testing, especially for arrivals, to encourage travel. Heathrow argues that on-site testing would limit the need for two-week quarantines for people coming to the UK. The government ministers disagreed.
As an international hub, Heathrow Airport typically handles more than 80 million passengers a year. But during the pandemic, governments put a number of travel restrictions in place and passengers were cautious about venturing too far from home, which resulted in international travel falling. According to the airport, 1.2 million passengers traveled in September, down 82 percent from 2019.
Heathrow hopes its new program could mark the start of a more extensive testing regime at the airport. Currently, the airport will offer a test called LAMP, which is not as sensitive as PCR tests run by the country’s national health service. PCR testing can detect active infections before symptoms appear, albeit with a full-day turnaround time. Heathrow plans to add antigen testing later, another type of rapid test.
The airport also said travelers to Italy could take advantage of the test, but Collinson, one of the companies managing the plan, said it was still in talks with the Italian government, the BBC reported.