Could rapid airport testing be the key to re-establishing air travel in Hong Kong?
Rapid coronavirus testing began at Hong Kong International Airport today - but arrivals are still required to take the mandatory PCR test.
Hong Kong’s Food and Health Bureau is inviting passengers to volunteer to take the faster Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test as well as the PCR test as it investigates the accuracy of the faster test.
The LAMP test can return results within 30 minutes, whereas the PCR test requires laboratory-based results with a turnaround that can take up to six hours. Passengers at Hong Kong airport reported waits of up to 19 hours in October.
The LAMP test has already been introduced at Heathrow Airport by logistics firm Swissport and aviation services company Collinson and is available for use by departing passengers bound for Hong Kong. The test is carried out by Collinson nurses and processed onsite by biotech company Prenetics.
The United Kingdom falls under Hong Kong’s ‘high risk’ group of countries and arrivals from these areas require a negative Covid medical certificate on arrival. The Heathrow LAMP tests can be taken land-side in Terminals 2 and 5 prior to boarding and return results within 90 minutes. They cost just GBP80, significantly less than many private clinics in London.
It is believed that, like Heathrow, the Hong Kong government plans to introduce rapid testing for outbound passengers to save travellers the cost and inconvenience of testing at a private laboratory in the city.
It is also likely that the government is trialling faster testing methods to prepare for incoming overseas tourists as part of any future ‘travel bubbles’ established with other cities and countries. It has already indicated that a travel bubble might be set up with Singapore as soon as next month.