All non-essential international travel from the UK is currently illegal, but that may change from 17 May. And when it does, the traveller is likely to face repeated demands for evidence of negative tests for Covid-19.
What’s the background?
Many countries now demand negative Covid-19 test results from incoming travellers.
We know relatively little about the opening up of international travel from the UK – but we do know that on return there will be a need to test both pre-departure and post-arrival.
There is no clarity yet about what sorts of tests are needed.
This reflects the global lack of agreement on the type of test and the timing requirements.
What tests are there?
Covid tests look either for the presence of the virus in the body right now – or evidence of a previous response to it by your immune system.
Those that look for current infection are broadly known as diagnostic tests. They can be molecular, such as PCR tests, which look for the virus’s genetic material; or antigen tests that detect specific proteins from the virus, usually the so-called “spike” protein.
Molecular tests are certainly preferred; the World Health Organisation says negative antigen diagnostic test results “should not remove a contact from quarantine requirements”…