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Airport Covid testing system on ‘brink of collapse’

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

A firm which provides rapid coronavirus tests at airports has predicted that holidaymakers will face a summer of missed flights, lost test results, delays and unclear PCR tests.

The chaos has been caused by the Covid laboratory testing system being overwhelmed with the rise in self-administered postal PCR test kits that airline passengers and holidaymakers need to take prior to departure.

Salutaris People, which provides rapid PCR testing at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, says the laboratory testing system is pushed to capacity and the brink of collapse.

Ross Tomkins, managing director of Salutaris People, said: “It is clear to see that the laboratories are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of testing kits being sent in by airline passengers eager to get away on holiday. As a result of this, the labs are losing test kits or mixing up test results, while others are being delayed and a large percentage are coming back with ‘unclears.’ When an ‘unclear’ happens, it is either down to the test being self-administered or due to leakage in transit.”

Salutaris People claims it has reported a significant increase in bookings for its testing service as a result of passengers whose PCR tests have been lost, whose results have been delayed, and who have received ‘unclears’, from other firms.

Tomkins claims his firm has stepped into to rescue about 150 passengers in this situation. Many of these people were due to take flights and start their holidays within days.

He said: “Not only is this frustrating for airline passengers, but it’s also costly having to take secondary testing. It is also creating chaos and anxiety for airline passengers when all they want to do is jump on a plane and take a holiday. We can clearly see that the laboratory testing is now at capacity and is on the verge of collapse. This is only going to get worse, rather than better, and will lead to many disappointed holidaymakers and airline passengers, whose plans could be seriously affected.”

Salutaris People offers rapid three-hour testing and 24-hour testing. It has its own laboratory on site at Liverpool, so it can process rapid tests for customers quickly and efficiently. As the tests are processed on-site, they can’t get misplaced or lost.

The travel industry was thrown into chaos last week after Portugal was moved from the green list for travel to the amber list.

People arriving in the UK from amber countries need to quarantine at home for 10 days and take PCR Covid-19 tests on or before day two and on or after day eight after returning home.

Anyone arriving back in England from a green list country will need to take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before their return travel, and a single PCR test on or before day two of arrival into England. However, they will not need to quarantine.