Health and Medical

What Travellers should Know about COVID-19 Testing

After several months of being home during the nationwide lockdown, most people can’t wait to leave their homes and make travel plans. If you are among those willing to travel soon, you need to make certain pre-travel plans like getting your Private COVID test for travel.

Your pre-travel COVID test result has to be negative for you to travel to a different country. However, having a negative COVID-19 test result doesn’t mean you won’t take the necessary safety precautions, but it helps curtail the spread of the virus.

Read on to get all the information you need about travelling during the COVD-19 pandemic.

Where can I get a COVID-19 test before my trip?

If you want to travel and need to get tested for the coronavirus, ensure you contact your primary healthcare provider to find out about testing centres in your area. You can also check the official website of your area’s health department to know the local testing centres. Some health care centres and pharmacies offer free COVID-19 testing. However, if you want to travel, you may need to pay for your test in a private clinic.

What type of COVID-19 test can travellers get?

There are two categories of COVID-19 test. They include the diagnostic and antibody test. Antibody tests help to determine if the patient had contracted the coronavirus by checking the patient’s blood sample for specific antibodies produced by the immune system to fight the virus. A positive test means that you were once infected by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The antibody test may not be suitable for travellers, but for getting the information needed by the public health department for research purposes.

The diagnostic test checks for active COVID-19 infectionsare of two types — the diagnostic test- antigen and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The PCR test can detect SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. PCR test requires the collection of the throat or nasal swab sample of the patient and transportation to a diagnostic laboratory for analysis.

The antigen test, on the other hand, checks for the protein on the surface of the virus and the test result can be available on-site within 15 minutes. It also requires a nasal swab sample. The tests are not discomforting, but you may feel a little discomfort during the collection of the nose or throat swab. A saliva sample may substitute the nasal or throat swab sample.

When should I take my COVID-19 test before travelling and how long does it take to get the test result?

The time to get the result of a COVID-19 test varies. A PCR test may take about 2 – 5 days to get the result while an antigen test will be ready within 15 minutes. Regardless of the expected time to get a test result, there may be a delay, and this can affect your travel plans. Ensure you have a flexible travel schedule as this will be helpful if there is a delay in getting your test result.

Do I need to have a negative test result to leave the country?

Depending on your travel destination, you may need to show proof that you do not have the coronavirus. Most places require you to take the COVID-19 test at least 72 hours before you arrive at your travel destination. You could get information on the entry requirement of your travel destination of their government’s official website.

Should travellers get a COVID-19 test after their trip?

This will depend on the entry requirement, but ensure you adhere to the instructions given by the officials. It is best to discuss your risk factors, symptoms, potential exposure to the virus, potential risk of proximity to high-risk individuals like those with an existing health condition, and ability to quarantine safely for the mandatory 10 – 14 days.

Several testing stations are available at airports. You could perform your test at any of these testing stations. Most airports testing sites are using the PCR test, which requires 2 – 5 days to get your result, but soon, the testing sites would have the 15-minute antigen test.

If I want to travel and have a negative test result, does it guarantee my safety?

A negative COVID-19 test result does not guarantee your safety, neither, does it guarantee the safety of others. However, PCR tests are more accurate and give fewer false-negatives and positives than antigen tests.

This does not mean there are no false results. For example, if you take the test too early, your test may read negative even when you have contracted the virus. To get an accurate test result, the healthcare provider needs to consider the probability of exposure, existing health condition, and the present symptoms.

Someone who was exposed to the virus and had a cough or fever may test negative, leading to false assurance. Individuals like this still need to self-isolate while waiting for follow-up and second testing to ensure the first result was accurate.

Irrespective of your test result, ensure you take the safety precautions by practising social distancing, washing your hands and wearing your face mask.

What else should I consider before I travel?

If you want to travel, check for the availability of quality healthcare at your travel destination and how accessible the healthcare facility is, in case you become sick. This consideration is quite important, especially for people with a high-risk of COVID-19 like older persons.

It is also important to thoroughly evaluate your travel insurance COVID-19 policies and check if the policy offer coverage for crises before the trip and the assistance they offer to travellers.

Ensure you get your covid fit to fly certificate before you travel because it is an entry requirement for most countries. If you want to travel and you need a document that certifies you fit to travel, contact STI Clinic London on 020 7183 0649 today or go online.

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