No more horrible nose swabs with new saliva-based Covid test for holidays

By Claire Schofield
Friday, 21st May 2021, 12:27 pm
The new test allows you to take a swab from the mouth instead of the nose (Photo: Getty Images)
The new test allows you to take a swab from the mouth instead of the nose (Photo: Getty Images)

A new Covid test which allows you to take a swab from the mouth instead of the nose has been approved by the government for holidays.

At the moment, travellers need to take a PCR test when arriving back in the UK from abroad, which requires a more uncomfortable procedure of taking a sample from the nostril and back of the throat.

The kits can be used by holidaymakers returning to the UK from green listed countries, which require a pre-departure Covid test, as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their return to the UK.

However, travellers will not need to quarantine, or take any additional tests, unless they receive a positive result.

Arrivals from amber listed countries will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days at a designated place of their choosing and take a pre-departure Covid test, as well as a PCR test on or before day town and on or after day eight.

There will be an option to take an additional test on day five to end-self isolation early, except for those travelling to Scotland.

Arrivals from red listed countries must stay in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days, take a pre-departure Covid test and a PCR test on or before day two, and on or after day eight.

Where to get a Covid test

PCR tests can cost up to £120 per person, although some airlines and tour operators are offering them at a discounted rate.

However, testing service HALO, one of the UK’s leading Covid test providers, has now been given approval to rollout the first saliva-based PCR test, priced at £89 each.

The new saliva-based Covid tests can be ordered from HALO online, with door to door courier delivery and collection available.

The kits are tested in a laboratory at Imperial College and the results can be tracked through an app, providing results within 24 hours.

Travellers will also receive a secure verification certificate which can be downloaded, printed and stored for proof of test.

A comprehensive list of PCR test providers is also available on the government website, which are priced at around £100.

High street retailers Boots and Superdrug both offer PCR tests, priced at £99 and £120 respectively.

The results of these will usually be returned within 48 hours, and if the test is inconclusive you will be issued a refund, or be given the option of paying to repeat the test. Tests at Boots also come with a “fit to fly certificate”.

Other private clinics across the country providing PCR tests can be found on the government website.

The government has advised that people should not use the NHS testing service to book a test before travelling abroad, but instead need to arrange one privately from a provider.

Test packages for holidays need to be booked in advance to give the provider time to organise delivery of the testing kits.