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UK airports launch Covid testing centres

Manchester Airport's new coronavirus Testing Centre opened today.

Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports have all launched coronavirus testing facilities today.

The test centres are the largest airport testing scheme in the UK so far. Heathrow Airport opened testing centres at Terminals 2 and 5 in partnership with Collinson earlier this autumn.

All types of tests will be available at the new facilities, including RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, Rapid Antigen and Antibody. Prices will start at GBP40 for an Antibody test, GBP50 for Antigen tests, GBP79 for RT-LAMP tests and GBP99 for RT-PCR tests.

Increasing numbers of destinations are requiring proof of a negative Covid test either on departure or on arrival and in-airport testing will make the process much more straightforward for passengers. Testing from the UK's National Health Service (NHS) is not available for travel. Those wanting to fly must seek testing at private clinics.

From December 15, arrivals into the UK from high-risk countries will also be able to shorten the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period to just five days if they book a test as part of the government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme.

Testing is again not available through the NHS and must be taken on day five after returning from a high-risk country. Tests instead can be accessed via nationwide pharmacy group Boots’ in-store RT PCR Covid-19 testing service, details of which are available through the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) website. Results are returned within 48 hours. All three airports, Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands are managed by MAG.

According to MAG chief executive officer Charlie Cornish, the group has created a booking option on its website to enable departure passengers to select the correct test for their destination that can either be taken at the airport or a convenient high street testing provider.

He added, “With the right facilities and booking system in place, we are also perfectly placed to support the introduction of a UK arrivals testing regime, which will enable travellers to reduce the length of time they need to self-isolate.”

Collinson joint chief executive officer David Evans described the initiative with MAG as, "a major step forward in opening up the UK to safe travel.”

The US Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) is now suggesting a reduced quarantine period of seven days, but with testing within 48 hours of the end of quarantine and daily symptom self-monitoring for the full 14 days. The CDC believes that if these recommendations are followed, the post-quarantine transmission risk would be about five per cent.

“The recommendation for a 14-day quarantine was based on estimates of the upper bounds of the Covid-19 incubation period,” it said. “Quarantine is a critical measure to control transmission… However, a 14-day quarantine can impose personal burdens that may affect physical and mental health as well as cause economic hardship.”

It added that testing at entry to quarantine provided little additional benefit.


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