Heathrow airport all set to open a new covid test center which will provide rapid results and thus avoid quarantines for inbound passengers!

The travel industry has been badly affected first by the coronavirus pandemic and now by the compulsory 14-day quarantine for new arrivals to any country. But now at Heathrow airport’s Terminal 2, they have started a new Covid test center for rapid results of COVID-19 for inbound passengers. The center is awaiting a green signal of the government. Know the details of this center here!

Heathrow airport’s new covid test center

One of the four airports of London, Heathrow airport is all set to begin operation of its new covid test center. It is just waiting for the green signal from the UK government. The best part of this center is that it will provide the results of covid testing within 24 hours. Hence the need for a prolonged quarantine of 14 days can be bypassed.

New covid test center at Heathrow airport [Source: The Guardian]
The center claims that it can test over 13000 tests per day. The aviation services firm Swissport and the Collinson Group which runs the airport lounges has launched this new center. The firms would start the next center in Termianl 5 of the same airport by end of August 2020. The center operators have said that these centers can be scaled up as per demand.

More details of the testing process

The center would do a two-test model similar to the one performed in Iceland and which has been successful. The first test is taken at the center when the passenger arrives in the UK. This is followed by a confirmatory test done a few days later. Both the tests are PCR swab tests and can therefore directly detect the antigens of the virus. They do not test antibodies to the virus. These tests cost 150 pounds each but as the demand for it increases, the cost could come down.

Also, read Travel and aviation industry wants an end to blanket quarantine for travelers!

Heathrow airport Terminal 2 [Source: Airport Technologies]
The center wants a nod from the government so that those inbound passengers who test negative can leave the isolation earlier. Furthermore, the main aim of this center is that by rapid testing and aborting of quarantine if negative result can help restore travelers’ confidence and give a boost to the aviation industry. A meeting of the government to discuss this matter is expected next week.

What else the center would provide?

Additionally, the center is also ready to go ahead and offer single testing for inbound passengers who  are home-quarantined for 5-10 days on arrival. Health minister Matt Hancock confirmed that the government and Heathrow airport are discussing on this new mode of fast testing. But they are concerned about the challenge to ensure that it can pick up all positive cases. Matt said:

“I’m very glad that they’re making progress, but we’ve got to make sure that this is safe and secure, because obviously that is absolutely top priority,”

Airport lounge in Terminal 5 Heathrow airport by Swissport and the Collinson Group [Source: Aviation Pros]
Such centers are already working in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle, Tokyo’s Haneda and Dubai’s International airports. Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said:

“This facility is an oven-ready opportunity to see how Britain can safely reopen for business, as other countries are doing,”

“Testing will not only avoid the ‘quarantine roulette’ that so many passengers faced in Spain and France. It will also open up flights to key trading partners such as the US, Canada and Singapore. The government’s own research shows that a double Covid test has a high level of accuracy.”

Travel agencies and aviation industry are welcoming such measures which can put an end to quarantines for incoming passengers to the UK!