People traveling immediately after their vacation may face uncertainties: many private testing clinics and laboratories are closed on Christmas Day, so testing within the 72-hour window can be difficult, especially for PCR screening, which Must be sent to a laboratory and can be done several days to process.
Dec 25, 2020 at 11:45 am ET
The Rapid Antigen Test, a relatively new tool for detecting the virus, gives a result in about 30 minutes but is not as widely used, although cheaper. For example, Heathrow Airport charges passengers about $ 130 for 48-hour PCR results and about $ 60 for antigen testing with results within 45 minutes.
Both tests are offered at major UK airports – including Heathrow and Gatwick, London’s two main hubs and Manchester Airport – but passengers must pre-register. It was unclear how many would be able to source a test and get a trip result in time.
The introduction of new travel restrictions raised concerns that travelers to the US would flock to the airport, as Londoners did at train stations last Saturday when stricter domestic regulations were announced. But Heathrow staff on Friday described a normal, if quieter, flow of passengers typical of Christmas Day, with most apparently traveling on long-haul flights.
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Things to know about testing
Confused by Coronavirus Testing Conditions? Let us help:
- antibody: A protein produced by the immune system that can recognize and attach to certain types of viruses, bacteria or other invaders.
- Antibody test / serology test: A test that detects antibodies specific to the coronavirus. About a week after the coronavirus infects the body, antibodies begin to appear in the blood. Because antibodies take so long to develop, an antibody test cannot reliably diagnose an ongoing infection. However, it can identify people who have been exposed to the coronavirus in the past.
- Antigen test: This test detects parts of coronavirus proteins called antigens. Antigen tests are quick and only take five minutes. However, they are less accurate than tests that detect genetic material from the virus.
- Coronavirus: Any virus that belongs to the Orthocoronavirinae virus family. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is known as SARS-CoV-2.
- Covid19: The disease caused by the new coronavirus. The name stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019.
- Isolation and quarantine: Isolation is separating people who know they have a contagious disease from those who are not sick. Quarantine refers to restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a virus.
- Nasopharyngeal smear: A long, flexible rod with a soft swab that is inserted deep into the nose to collect samples from the space where the nasal cavity meets the throat. Samples for coronavirus tests can also be taken with swabs that don’t go as deep into the nose – sometimes called nasal swabs – or with swabs from the mouth or throat.
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR): Scientists use PCR to make millions of copies of genetic material in a sample. With the help of PCR tests, researchers can detect the coronavirus even when it is scarce.
- Viral load: The amount of virus in a person’s body. In people infected with the coronavirus, viral loads can peak before symptoms, if any.
Several airlines had already announced guidelines requiring proof of a negative test after New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo demanded that passengers coming from London to John F. Kennedy International Airport must document a negative test result.
“We cannot allow history to repeat itself with this new variant,” Mr Cuomo wrote on Twitter.
Also on Thursday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said passengers arriving at Newark Airport would need negative tests within 72 hours of departure in order to enter.
American travel requirements are less draconian than those of other countries in Europe and Asia, which excluded all travelers from the UK after the advent of the new coronavirus variant. Experts are skeptical that travel bans can stop the spread of the variant. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease expert, said there was a good chance the variant was already in the country.