- Some passengers at Heathrow Airport in London can now pay £80, or $US104, for a coronavirus test that guarantees results within an hour.
- The tests are on offer to passengers flying to Hong Kong and Italy, which require proof of a negative test result on arrival.
- The company behind the initiative acknowledged the test, which is carried out on-site, is “not as sensitive” as those processed at labs.
- British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Cathay Pacific will be the first airlines to offer the test.
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Passengers at Europe’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, can now take a $US100 rapid coronavirus test if they’re flying to Hong Kong and Italy, which require proof of a negative test result on arrival.
From Tuesday, passengers at Heathrow Airport can pay Â£80, or $US104, for the tests, which guarantee results within an hour.
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Cathay Pacific are set to be the first airlines to offer the tests, which are available only for passengers leaving the UK.
Flyers book a Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification test â€” known as a Lamp test â€” online ahead of time and take it before checking in at two of the airport’s four terminals.
The test is “not as sensitive” as the lab-processed PCR test commonly used by the UK’s health service, Collinson, the company behind the plan, said in a press release.
Passengers have their nose and throat swabbed, and the samples are processed on-site by the biotech company Prenetics.
Lamp tests might be able to detect patients immediately after infection, before symptoms are displayed, Collinson added, but this is “unsure at present.”
Some countries require proof of a negative result upon arrival. Both Hong Kong and Italy require all travellers from the UK, where cases are relatively high, to provide a negative test before being allowed in, either before departure or on arrival.
The Lamp test, however, will not suffice for those travelling from the UK to Greece, Cyprus, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. These countries require travellers to take a PCR test.
Collinson plans to add other predeparture tests in the future, such as antigen tests, it said.
In August, Heathrow unveiled a large test-on-arrival facility built by Collinson and the logistics firm Swissport â€” but it is still awaiting government approval. If the testing is authorised, it could reduce the length of the current 14-day quarantine period for passengers arriving in the UK from certain countries.
German airports including Frankfurt and Munich offer free rapid COVID-19 tests to travellers returning from high-risk countries.
France plans to introduce rapid coronavirus tests at airports by the end of October for passengers travelling to the US and Italy, as well as for arrivals from high-risk countries.
Finland, meanwhile, is trialing dogs to test travellers for COVID-19. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport says this could be a quicker and cheaper method than traditional tests.
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