Covid-19 testing: your experiences

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Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 66 total)

  • FaroFlyer
    Participant

    Are all PCR tests the same, or do they change with purpose?

    Hi Martyn,

    Exactly what I asked on my post of 6 June
    “Are all PCR tests the same, or do they change with purpose?”


    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    Are all PCR tests the same, or do they change with purpose?

    Hi Martyn,

    Exactly what I asked on my post of 6 June
    “Are all PCR tests the same, or do they change with purpose?”

    I only have a layman’s knowledge of this, but my understanding is that all PCR tests are basically the same. They all collect samples from your mouth and/or nose which is then tested for viral DNA. However, there are two areas where this process varies. The first is where the samples are collected from. The most common requirement is that you swab from both your mouth and one nostril. Others accept mouth only or nostril only. And the other main difference is whether the samples are collected by a trained person at a clinic, or whether they are DIY tests.

    These differences can obviously impact on the accuracy of the results they deliver, particularly the risk of false negatives and/or ‘inconclusive’ results. In terms of experience, I can only speak of what I have to do here in Ghana. For them, tests have to collect samples from both the nose and mouth to be valid, and have to be done at an authorised clinic. However, they do not impose this rule for people taking tests outside of Ghana, presumably for practical reasons.

    That is my understanding anyway, but very happy for anyone more qualified than me to expand on (or correct) the above.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    TonyR
    Participant

    I am making an attempt for a 3 day trip to Malta (Amber). I live close enough to Heathrow to go and get my predeparture test there. Can someone explain the difference between

    https://www.heathrow.com/at-the-airport/fly-safe/covid-19-test

    PCR Fit to fly – cost £59 – result next day by 10pm

    PCR – cost £99 – result in 48 hours

    I am also trying to understand whether you need to attend a clinic for the test or whether you can do the test yourself.

    Are the 2 and 8 day test the same PCR test or a different kind of test.

    All very confusing … (to me anyway)….

    Timing appears absolutely critical, with a 9.30am departure, I really need a result next day, not 48 hours later….

    Many thanks

    Martyn

    From my experience there are lots of different providers at lots of different prices for the same tests. But if time is critical go to one that takes the test at the lab to avoid uncertainty and delay in the post. Some really don’t deliver what they claim to offer so check out review sites like Trustpilot to see how others have fared, especially if time is critical. But even the ones that say next day have caveats that it may not be for 48hrs so plan accordingly or accept the small risk the results may not arrive in time. I had good experience with the Heathrow ExpressTest who took the swabs at 18:00 and had the results to us by 13:50 the next day and also had a phone line that was answered to sort out any problems. Also used Screen4’s London clinic, not for Fit to Fly but Day 5 Test and Release with the swabs taken at 13:00 and the results back by midnight. YMMV & HTH.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    ASK1945
    Participant

    I can only speak of what I have to do here in Ghana. For them, tests have to collect samples from both the nose and mouth to be valid, and have to be done at an authorised clinic. However, they do not impose this rule for people taking tests outside of Ghana, presumably for practical reasons.

    That is my understanding anyway, but very happy for anyone more qualified than me to expand on (or correct) the above.

    I am definitely NOT qualified to comment on or correct what you have written. However, I am concerned at earlier replies (to me) about self-administered PCR tests being acceptable for international travel.

    We are due to fly to Israel in just over two weeks’ time. It is the only larger “Green list” country currebntly accepting travellers from the UK. I have been in touch with UK national friends who have travelled there in the last couple of weeks, and I have been told by all of them that only supervised PCR pre-flight tests, taken in UK certified testing centres, are acceptable to the health personnel at TLV, upon entry for non-Israeli nationals. This is the opposite to what the Ghanaian authorities seem to be imposing.

    Moreover, currently Israel is only accepting as valid double vaccination certification from the UK is signed letter from a medical practitioner on “headed” notepaper – and NOT the NHS App. This may change from July 1st with the newly announced relaxation of the current entry visa rules.


    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    I can only speak of what I have to do here in Ghana. For them, tests have to collect samples from both the nose and mouth to be valid, and have to be done at an authorised clinic. However, they do not impose this rule for people taking tests outside of Ghana, presumably for practical reasons.

    That is my understanding anyway, but very happy for anyone more qualified than me to expand on (or correct) the above.

    I am definitely NOT qualified to comment on or correct what you have written. However, I am concerned at earlier replies (to me) about self-administered PCR tests being acceptable for international travel.

    We are due to fly to Israel in just over two weeks’ time. It is the only larger “Green list” country currebntly accepting travellers from the UK. I have been in touch with UK national friends who have travelled there in the last couple of weeks, and I have been told by all of them that only supervised PCR pre-flight tests, taken in UK certified testing centres, are acceptable to the health personnel at TLV, upon entry for non-Israeli nationals. This is the opposite to what the Ghanaian authorities seem to be imposing.

    Moreover, currently Israel is only accepting as valid double vaccination certification from the UK is signed letter from a medical practitioner on “headed” notepaper – and NOT the NHS App. This may change from July 1st with the newly announced relaxation of the current entry visa rules.

    ASK – yes, it does seem that Israel have much stricter requirements on this, and for good reason. I think Ghana would struggle to effectively enforce a system which required them to have additional proof (e.g. letter from a medical practitioner). They do not differentiate between Ghanaian and other citizens in their requirements and the majority of travellers are Ghanaian citizens (possibly with both UK & Ghanaian citizenship in many cases), at least in terms of the daily BA flight. Many of these would not have a GP in the UK.

    They do however also have PCR testing on arrival for all passengers which follow their guidelines, before they can leave the airport. I think it is that system which has been the key to successfully preventing transmission and any major increase in cases since flights resumed in September.


    TonyR
    Participant

    Are all PCR tests the same, or do they change with purpose?

    Hi Martyn,

    Exactly what I asked on my post of 6 June
    “Are all PCR tests the same, or do they change with purpose?”

    I only have a layman’s knowledge of this, but my understanding is that all PCR tests are basically the same. They all collect samples from your mouth and/or nose which is then tested for viral DNA. However, there are two areas where this process varies. The first is where the samples are collected from. The most common requirement is that you swab from both your mouth and one nostril. Others accept mouth only or nostril only. And the other main difference is whether the samples are collected by a trained person at a clinic, or whether they are DIY tests.

    These differences can obviously impact on the accuracy of the results they deliver, particularly the risk of false negatives and/or ‘inconclusive’ results. In terms of experience, I can only speak of what I have to do here in Ghana. For them, tests have to collect samples from both the nose and mouth to be valid, and have to be done at an authorised clinic. However, they do not impose this rule for people taking tests outside of Ghana, presumably for practical reasons.

    That is my understanding anyway, but very happy for anyone more qualified than me to expand on (or correct) the above.

    Slight correction that there are PCR tests which measure viral DNA and RT-PCR tests that measure viral RNA. As the COVID virus is an RNA virus you need the RT-PCR. All providers should be using the latter but tend to call them just PCR so worth checking as RT is what you want. If you get a positive result it’s also worth asking what your Ct (Cycle Threshold) number is – the number of amplification cycles before a virus signal is detected. If it’s low – less than around 35 – it’s almost certain you have an infection. If it’s in the range 35-40 its marginal and worth asking about a retest as it could be a false positive. HTH

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    ASK1945
    Participant

    They do however also have PCR testing on arrival for all passengers which follow their guidelines, before they can leave the airport. I think it is that system which has been the key to successfully preventing transmission and any major increase in cases since flights resumed in September.

    Yes, I understand that the same applies at TLV for all arrivals, but who may leave before the test results are to hand. However, for non-nationals (currently) a serology test is also mandastory, just off-site from the airport. Quarantine, in a home or hotel, is imposed until the result of this is ready, about 12 to 24 hours later. It’s not clear whether this will still apply after June 30th.

    A follow-up of the PCR – if positive – is supposed to happen, but nobody I know turned out to be Covid-positive, so this may not be correct.


    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    They do however also have PCR testing on arrival for all passengers which follow their guidelines, before they can leave the airport. I think it is that system which has been the key to successfully preventing transmission and any major increase in cases since flights resumed in September.

    Yes, I understand that the same applies at TLV for all arrivals, but who may leave before the test results are to hand. However, for non-nationals (currently) a serology test is also mandastory, just off-site from the airport. Quarantine, in a home or hotel, is imposed until the result of this is ready, about 12 to 24 hours later. It’s not clear whether this will still apply after June 30th.

    A follow-up of the PCR – if positive – is supposed to happen, but nobody I know turned out to be Covid-positive, so this may not be correct.

    In Accra, you cannot leave the airport until the results are available. The way it works is that the test is done immediately as you disembark. You then go through immigration, then collect your bags. Then, as you proceed to customs, there is an additional desk where they check your passport number and provide you with the result. So there is no additional delay (given baggage reclaim usually takes close to an hour!) and no one leaves the airport unless they get a negative result. The flip side of that though, is that there is no quarantine requirement, unless you have a positive test. I cannot say for sure whether this system is fail-safe, but certainly the levels of infection in the country suggest it is working quite well.

    Of course Accra airport only has around 4-6 wide-bodied aircraft arrivals a day so the numbers are much more manageable than busier airports.


    StephenLondon
    Participant

    I chose a Randox at home PCR Fit to Fly test (using a BA discount code) before travelling to France just after we were allowed out of the UK mid-May. The test was delivered a couple of days before my Tuesday flight. I took the test at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. Randox gives you the opportunity to drop the tests into their premises in either The City of London or at a drop box at Southwark Cathedral (where they are doing testing). I was updated on the progress of the tests (they are flown to N Ireland where they are tested). They arrived at 03:30 and my results were emailed to me Monday morning by 09:30, ideal for my midday flight on Tuesday.

    For the return, I’ve opted for Collinson’s Day 2/Day 8 test, plus a Day 5 Test-to-release. Collinson emailed to advise that it is Day 2 or before, so I could get my test upon arrival at LHR. This I did. It was very efficient at T5 (3 mins in and out) with the test taken at 15:15 and I had the results emailed to me the next morning by 09:30. I’m taking the Day 5 and Day 8 tests at their walk-in centre at the 02 Arena, which is close to where I live, but could just as easily have gone to London City Airport.

    Randox testing mid-May cost £60 per person with BA discount. Collinson Day 2/8 was £160 per person plus another £76 for day 5 all with BA discounts.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    TonyR
    Participant

    They do however also have PCR testing on arrival for all passengers which follow their guidelines, before they can leave the airport. I think it is that system which has been the key to successfully preventing transmission and any major increase in cases since flights resumed in September.

    Yes, I understand that the same applies at TLV for all arrivals, but who may leave before the test results are to hand. However, for non-nationals (currently) a serology test is also mandastory, just off-site from the airport. Quarantine, in a home or hotel, is imposed until the result of this is ready, about 12 to 24 hours later. It’s not clear whether this will still apply after June 30th.

    A follow-up of the PCR – if positive – is supposed to happen, but nobody I know turned out to be Covid-positive, so this may not be correct.

    In Accra, you cannot leave the airport until the results are available. The way it works is that the test is done immediately as you disembark. You then go through immigration, then collect your bags. Then, as you proceed to customs, there is an additional desk where they check your passport number and provide you with the result. So there is no additional delay (given baggage reclaim usually takes close to an hour!) and no one leaves the airport unless they get a negative result. The flip side of that though, is that there is no quarantine requirement, unless you have a positive test. I cannot say for sure whether this system is fail-safe, but certainly the levels of infection in the country suggest it is working quite well.

    Of course Accra airport only has around 4-6 wide-bodied aircraft arrivals a day so the numbers are much more manageable than busier airports.

    If its a 1-2hr turnaround it won’t be a PCR test. Lateral flow tests vary between pretty good and pretty poor as spotting especially early infections so it could well not be fail-safe. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247(21)00056-2/fulltext

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    LuganoPirate
    Participant

    Maybe not of use for UK resident / travelers, but for those coming to Switzerland or South Africa and need a test for their return, I hope this is helpful? In both countries the result comes via an SMS which has a link to a PDF document which you can print or keep on your phone. Typical Switzerland you have to go through a merry dance to get to the download, by inputting some data, then receiving an SMS code which you have to again input and then you gain access. SA was just a simple link to the pdf!!

    Switzerland: I had a test in November and various family members have had tests to travel in Europe and to SA. We used UNILABS, but can also be any Hirslanden Clinic and I believe at Zurich Airport – amongst others.

    Cost around CHF 150 with the result given in 24 hours. However in practice it didn’t matter what time the appointment was, we all had the result by 9am next day.

    South Africa: There are several ways, hospital, drive through or pharmacy such as Clicks or Dischem. Mrs. LP in March and several friends in May and June all used the drive in facility (in the Garden Route, Mossel Bay, Knysna and Cape Town) or Pathcare. Cost was +- ZAR 250. Dischem / Clicks both charge ZAR 350. Results in 24 hours but again in practice they all had the results by midday following day no mater the time of the appointment.


    ASK1945
    Participant

    “Covid-19 testing: your experiences” – a friend of my son’s has just visited England from Israel, to see her parents for a week. Double jabbed with Pfizer earlier this year, negative PCR out of Israel and into LHR. Undertook a later (48-hour) PCR in London, negative. Undertook another PCR just before her planned return, as is mandatory before travel, and is (asymptomatically) positive.

    Now quarantined in the UK for up to 14 days. Her husband (and friends) are having to continue looking after her children. At least she has somewhere to stay.


    TonyR
    Participant

    “Covid-19 testing: your experiences” – a friend of my son’s has just visited England from Israel, to see her parents for a week. Double jabbed with Pfizer earlier this year, negative PCR out of Israel and into LHR. Undertook a later (48-hour) PCR in London, negative. Undertook another PCR just before her planned return, as is mandatory before travel, and is (asymptomatically) positive.

    Now quarantined in the UK for up to 14 days. Her husband (and friends) are having to continue looking after her children. At least she has somewhere to stay.

    Afraid in these uncertain times these are the sorts of things you have to be prepared for. Things are changing all the time and the virus hasn’t gone away. The vaccines do not stop you catching it, they just prepare your immune system to respond more quickly and effectively when you do.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Maybe I am overlooking this but researching about the PCR requirements is not straightforward I am going for a 72 hour business trip to Malta shortly, a trip that will incur more PCR tests than I have meetings and a period of quarantine about 3 times the length of the trip itself.

    They all collect samples from your mouth and/or nose which is then tested for viral DNA. However, there are two areas where this process varies. The first is where the samples are collected from. The most common requirement is that you swab from both your mouth and one nostril. Others accept mouth only or nostril only. And the other main difference is whether the samples are collected by a trained person at a clinic, or whether they are DIY tests.

    The above worried me as I had heard of people undergoing PCR tests and still being refused boarding. I have followed the recommendation of Mininguy and will get tested by DAM. They are easily accessible and answered the phone at 10.30pm to answer questions and queries.

    My worry is in the UK it appears it is a mouth and nasal swab style PCR but speaking to a client in Malta who has just been PCR’d for a return flight, the Maltese swab is just a nasal (as that is the requirement for flying within Europe).

    Can anyone reassure me that either swab will be sufficient.

    I spoke to DAM again this morning who confirmed their negative PCR swab will get me onto a BA flight to Europe, the only destinations their swabs are not recognised for are HKG and Jersey who require a higher degree of accuracy for PCR| tests.

    I generally don’t worry about any form of testing, but these PCR’s are making me very twitchy. I also decided to go for the 24 hour results (not 48 hour) – dont want to be staring at my phone waiting for the results… (which I guess I will be doing regardless)…


    TonyR
    Participant

    @MartynSinclair. I’ve had a whole variety of different swab methods used on me – from one nostril to two throat and two nostril insertions – and they all seem to have been accepted. What hasn’t been widely accepted is spit in a tube PCR or lateral flow tests. But this comment comes with no warranties 🙂

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