UK cuts cost of Covid-19 tests for passengers arriving from UAE, India

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London - Prices slashed following complaints over costs levied by private British providers.

By Prasun Sonwalkar

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Published: Sat 14 Aug 2021, 4:31 PM

Last updated: Sat 14 Aug 2021, 5:00 PM

The Boris Johnson government on Saturday reduced the price of mandatory Covid-19 tests for international arrivals from green and amber list countries, including the UAE and India, following complaints about exorbitant costs levied by private British providers.

The UAE and India were among countries that were moved to the amber list on August 8, allowing the resumption of travel to the United Kingdom (UK) under easier rules of quarantine and testing.

If a passenger arriving from an amber list country is fully vaccinated, the person needs to take a Covid-19 test on the second day of his/her arrival.

If the person is not vaccinated, a 10-day quarantine is needed at home or at the place of stay, besides tests on the second and eighth day, respectively.

Those arriving from green list countries need to take a test on the second day..

The cost of tests needed on the second day booked and conducted with the National Health Service (NHS) has been reduced from £88 (Dh448) to £68 (Dh346) for green or fully vaccinated amber arrivals, and from £170 (Dh866) to £136 (Dh693) for two tests for amber arrivals who are not fully vaccinated.

There are currently hundreds of companies that offer Covid-19 tests, levying a range of prices. The tests offered by the NHS are expected to work as a reference point to reduce the prices of tests, with the government initiating a ‘rapid internal review’ of the pricing and service standards of all providers of second- and eighth-day tests.

British officials said any misleading pricing would be clamped down on swiftly and would urgently remove listings found to have misleading prices. This is the second time that the pricing of NHS tests has been reduced, following a review in May, which had reduced the cost of a second- and eighth-day package from £210 (Fh1,070) to £170 (Dh866).

NHS Test and Trace advertises its tests alongside private companies’ testing packages, and they are available to purchase to fulfil the UK government’s testing requirements for international travel.

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I know how much people have looked forward to their summer holidays and that the cost of PCR testing can be a barrier to that. That’s why I’m determined to protect consumers and hardworking families from exploitative practices and ensure high quality tests are available at a reasonable price”.

He added, “I’m pleased to announce that with immediate effect we’re slashing the price of second- and eighth-day tests from NHS Test and Trace by a fifth … any provider found to be misleading the public will be kicked off. Too many providers are acting like cowboys and that needs to stop. The public should be allowed to enjoy their summer holidays without having to face excessive costs or anxiety.”

British officials said test providers must use laboratories that are either accredited or undergoing accreditation by the independent United Kingdom Accreditation Service. The UK-based companies using laboratories that fail to meet the high standards required will be removed from the list of approved suppliers without hesitation.

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