Chaos as new travel tests see websites go down and some companies don’t even sell rapid tests


Fully vaccinated travelers can now book affordable lateral flow tests rather than expensive PCR tests, but the launch has seen some sites collapse and other companies are not even selling the rapid tests.

This morning it was not possible to buy lateral flow tests from half of the test providers on the government list, including the cheapest options under £ 20, I analysis found.

The cheapest option available for a home self-swab test was from Randox Health Airport Testing. They charge £ 24 for home delivery or £ 20 per click and nationwide collection.

Affinity Health and Coronafocus both charge £ 25 for testing and the other options are even more expensive. Prices range from £ 28.75 at Collinson to £ 39 at Pharmesthetics Ltd.

Lateral flow tests can be booked on the government website starting today and starting Sunday, October 24, they will replace expensive PCR testing as a requirement for fully vaccinated travelers.

Provider C-19 Direct offers home self-swab lateral flow testing for as little as £ 14.94, but that option is not available by clicking on their website. Likewise, the PeploBio company claims to charge just £ 18 for lateral flow testing, but ‘PCR testing’ appears to be the only option available online.

The website for the third cheapest company, Testing For All – which charges £ 19 per test – crashed hours after the list was published on Friday morning. The company said it had “temporarily halted sales” due to “very high demand” for the affordable Day 2 lateral flow test.

The site is back up and running with £ 19 tests available for purchase.

Likewise, Project Screen also halted sales of the £ 22 lateral flow tests for a “short period”, as did Covid Smart Limited.

The fourth cheapest option on the government’s list, Cignpost Diagnostics, also stopped working because a click on the sidestream test option took consumers straight to the home page.

The company offers home delivery testing for £ 25, but the £ 19.99 option advertised on the government listing is for click and collect only and is not available to book until November 3.

Joshua Stehr, 30, needed to book a test as he traveled from Germany to the UK to visit family for the first time in two years due to the pandemic.

He found the experience “frustrating” and spent two to three hours looking for a decently priced test.

He said I: “I went through seven or eight different providers who were listed in the London area. I tried to find what was the cheapest and met the requirements.

“The lateral flow tests would have been cheaper, but everywhere I could find them they were out of stock. So I tried the next option – day 2 PCR testing for the countries on the green list.

“I tried with several different sites – either they were very expensive at over £ 100 or when I started paying the load was endless. I just paid, I think, £ 56 for the first website I could find that worked.

Shaunna, 30, booked a mini-stay at Disneyland Paris with her partner and was attempting to purchase a lateral flow test this morning from Testing for All.

“When I got to the payments page a buffering symbol appeared and when I tried to refresh [the webpage], it turned out that Testing For All had suspended the store because it was very busy, ”she said. I.

She has since been able to book two £ 19 tests on the site, which she said she felt “good” as they are “much cheaper than a PCR test”.

“I think travel testing should be regulated as the costs can put travelers off, such as PCR testing at £ 70 and above. We would have paid, but it would have put a damper on our vacation and forced us to take a closer look at costs or spend less money for fun, ”she said.

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The government site lists Boots UK as an option for £ 20 lateral flow testing, but the website only offers a rapid in-store antigen testing service for £ 30, which only seems to be suitable for the pre -travel in some countries.

Rory Boland, travel editor at Which ?, called the launch “shambolic” in a tweet. He said: “The government has released its list of day two sideload providers. The problem? The first two providers on the list do not sell day 2 lateral flow tests. Shambolic.

In a statement, after the morning of the technical issues, he said: “It is totally unacceptable that the government has released a list of test providers that once again misleads travelers by featuring companies advertising prices below. real cost and several companies that don’t even sell the correct test.

“Unfortunately, this means that once again you cannot trust the information on the government website. The government listing should be your starting point, but you will need to do your own homework and research the suppliers.

“Which one? Has reviewed the best inexpensive PCR testing companies and consumers may consider booking with the same companies if they offer lateral flow testing. Social media is also a good place to check out the experience that people have. customers have with testing providers.

Some customers also reported that they were unable to access the government website to view the list as it is “currently offline due to high demand.”

Lateral flow tests are still available from other companies on the government list at much cheaper prices than PCR tests.

Randox Health Airport Testing charged £ 20 per test and the site appears to be up and running. The company offers home self-swab testing for home delivery for £ 24 or click and collect to various locations for £ 20.

Tests are also available from Affinity Health for £ 25.

What are the new travel rules?

The only requirement for fully vaccinated adults and all children traveling to the UK will be to complete a passenger locator form before arriving and book a private lateral flow test to check if they are at risk of spreading Covid-19 .

Previously, it was necessary to take a more accurate and expensive PCR test after landing in Britain.

When do the new rules come into force?

Sunday October 24 is the first day that lateral flow testing will replace PCR in England.

The precise date on which Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow suit has not yet been confirmed.

Can I just get a free NHS test?

No. The NHS Test and Trace system is not intended to be used to facilitate international travel.

It is mandatory for travelers to demonstrate that they have booked a test with a private provider, including well-known chain stores as well as a large number of small start-ups, as a condition of entry into Large. Brittany.

What about the children?

Children between the ages of five and 17 must comply with the testing requirements. They do not need to be vaccinated to be on the diet, unlike adults.

What are the rules for the unvaccinated?

Any adult who is not fully vaccinated must take a private PCR test before leaving for the UK, another within two days of arrival and a third on the eighth day in the country.

They must self-isolate for 10 days, unless they take a fourth PCR test on the fifth day which comes back negative.

Passengers who are not yet fully vaccinated still have to undergo more expensive PCR testing for travel, and companies on the government approved supplier list still charge above-average prices for PCR swabs.

Analysis by I carried out yesterday revealed that at least 100 of the 454 PCR providers on the government-approved list charge well above the £ 75 average.

A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said it was “happy” that expensive PCR tests were no longer needed for double-vaccinated passengers returning to England, but the government must do more to support the travel industry as she recovers.

“The news will be a huge boost to the travel industry and give passengers more confidence and certainty without the cost of a more expensive PCR test.

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“However, we believe the government needs to do more and remove all testing requirements for fully vaccinated passengers, ensure ‘common sense’ recognition of vaccinations issued overseas, and remove the cumbersome passenger tracking form.”

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