With a coronavirus test being an ever-more important requirement in order for people to travel, there are now several private sectors (non-NHS) providers of coronavirus tests. Having a test through a private provider may be a good option for people who may not be able to travel to an NHS testing center, or who are a long distance away from a testing center. A private test also allows a person to order a test online and have the kit delivered to their door, without leaving their home. Such testing kits are required for travelers entering the UK from a non ‘red list’ country, who want to shorten their quarantine time.
Private Covid-19 testing kits
There are many non-NHS providers of coronavirus testing kits. Private sector providers must meet the government’s minimum standards for providers of Test to Release for international travel, and the government has compiled a full list of private, reputable companies such as Medicspot, so that those being tested can make the right decision for their health and undertake proper research on private companies before ordering a coronavirus testing kit. This list of providers is frequently updated by DHSC as more providers declare that they have met the required standards and have undergone review by UKAS.
Knowing how to choose a reputable provider of a coronavirus testing kit is important if travelers have opted in to the new ‘Test to Release’ scheme. Under this scheme as of February 15, 2020, all international arrivals who have not been in a ‘red list’ country with a travel ban for the 10 days prior to their entry into the UK can opt to have a private test. If they test negative for coronavirus, this will shorten the amount of time that they need to self-isolate upon entry. By law, “all tests used for the purpose of shortening the self-isolation period for international arrivals must meet certain minimum standards”. Non-NHS providers of testing kits must also declare that their tests meet these standards.
As of 15 February 2020, all travelers who have been in so-called ‘red list‘ countries in the 10 days prior to their arrival in the UK will need to quarantine in quarantine hotels. These facilities are government-managed and travelers staying in such premises must stay the full ten-day duration to ensure they are free of coronavirus before entering the UK. All other international arrivals are required to have a mandatory coronavirus test on days 2 and 8 or their quarantine period upon entering the UK.
Reputable coronavirus testing kits will have to meet the minimum standards as dictated by the government. All testing kits must have the approval of medical professionals and have a registered medical practitioner who is part of the General Medical Council within its organization. This clinical professional will oversee all clinical practices undertaken by the testing kit provider, and will be responsible for reporting any clinical issues. The testing kit must also have a sensitivity greater than 95% (limit of detection less or equal to 1,000 SARS-CoV-2 copies per milliliter (≤1000 Copies/ml). The kit must also be thoroughly tested in a laboratory, with Health and Safety Executive (HSE), approval. Staff must be properly trained, with competence assessments and an external quality assessment, and private companies must have liability and indemnity cover. All coronavirus testing systems must also meet the criteria for transportation, handling, and detailed assessment of testing samples.
The UK government states that it doesn’t recommend any particular non-NHS provider, therefore those who want a private coronavirus test must ensure that they undertake thorough research to receive a reputable and effective testing kit. If you have coronavirus symptoms, you should self-isolate immediately and get an NHS Test and Trace test to check if you have the virus.