athens internal medicine associates

Covid-19: Simon Calder explains when to book travel PCR tests

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For many Britons, regular Covid testing has become a part of everyday life, but a surge in demand for tests has led to a lack of availability of lateral flow test kits at pharmacies and online. Fortunately, there are thousands of Covid test sites across the country where you can walk in and get a PCR test. Here’s how to find your nearest centre.

A double whammy has led to a lack of availability of lateral flow tests across the UK.

Concerns over the highly transmissible Omicron variant and calls from the Government to get tested regularly have seen demand for tests soar.

But the UK has a huge PCR testing capacity – on December 30 laboratories across the UK reported their combined testing capacity stood at a staggering 899,247 tests a day.

But this huge capacity isn’t being taken advantage of, 3 panadol as many Brits don’t realise how quick and easy it is to access these tests.

Despite the capacity standing at 899,247 on December 30, just 572,267 tests were taken on that day.

Getting a PCR test at a walk-in or drive-through test site is easy, simply book an appointment online at Gov.uk.

You can find out where your nearest test centre is here.

If you cannot book an appointment online, you can call 119 to book an appointment.

These lines are usually open from 7am to 11pm but these times may vary on Bank Holidays.

If you have been online and found there are no available appointments to book, do not use this line to try and book a test, as the NHS states if this is the case are “no extra tests are available through the helplines.”

Who can get tested at walk-in Covid centres?

Anyone can use this service for free, but the NHS urges people to consider getting lateral flow tests where possible if they do not have symptoms.

PCR tests give a more accurate picture if you have Covid, so they are primarily designed for those who are more likely to have the virus.

This includes

– those who have symptoms
– those who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive
– those who have received an unclear test result and have been told to get a second test.

Can you use NHS PCR tests for travel?

Unfortunately, you cannot use the NHS’s free PCR tests for travel.

Many countries now require Brits to show proof of a negative Covid test before they can enter their borders.

But you cannot use NHS tests for travel purposes, you must use a private test provider.

There are thousands of these providers throughout the UK, you can find your nearest travel test provider here.

When should you get a PCR test if you have symptoms?

The NHS states: “You need to get the test done in the first eight days of having symptoms.

“On days one to seven, you can get tested at a site or at home. If you’re ordering a home test kit on day seven, do it by 3pm.

“On day eight, you need to go to a test site – it’s too late to order a home test kit.”

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