Ahead of the UK Government’s expected announcement of a roadmap towards the resumption of international travel (Monday 5th April), COVID-19 testing company Cignpost ExpressTest has called on the Government to reduce testing restrictions for holidaymakers.
Under the existing rules, anyone traveling abroad and returning to the UK needs to take four COVID-19 tests and isolate for 10 days, with the option of a fifth test to shorten their quarantine period.
But the Chief Medical Officer at Cignpost ExpressTest, Professor Denis Kinane, believes you can cut the number of tests to three and eliminate the need for isolation on return to the UK: “While virologists and epidemiologists agree that testing plays a crucial part in preventing the spread of new virus mutations from abroad, the current regime is excessive.
“Gold-standard PCR tests can detect the viral load of individuals with high sensitivity and specificity.
"One test on departure from the UK, another before the return trip home and then a final test two days later is sufficient to confirm holidaymakers are free from the virus. There would then be no need for people to isolate when they are back in the UK.
"Such a change in the rules would enable people to travel abroad and then go straight back to work on their return, and would still ensure that anyone testing positive could be isolated before they infect other people.
“The Government’s current testing requirements would impose huge extra burden for people going on holiday that is simply not supported by the science. The Government could retain a “red list” of countries where travel is not possible at all, particularly where there are new strains of COVID-19 that the vaccine might not protect against.”
The company has urged the Government to reduce the number of tests and the need for isolation as part of its plan to restart international travel, which the Prime Minister is expected to announce on 5th April.
The call from Cignpost ExpressTest comes following new research of 2120 adults, undertaken by Yonder, that found only 1 in 8 people (12%) would go on a holiday abroad if they had to pay for a single PCR test.
While 29% of those surveyed are considering a holiday abroad, 49% of those whose who will consider travelling will only do so if the destination has been deemed as safe by the Government.
Among those considering a trip abroad, 19% were unaware they would need to take and provide proof of a negative test on return and 26% were under the impression that they could obtain the tests from a free NHS facility.
Christian Corney, CEO of Cignpost ExpressTest, says: “Once the Government has decided a destination is safe, they should be doing all they can to make the travel process as simple as possible for holidaymakers – or else they risk choking off holidays abroad for the rest of the year.”