The UK’s first “rapid result” pre-departure Covid testing has been made available for passengers flying out of Heathrow from Tuesday (20 October).
Travellers flying from the London airport to Hong Kong and Italy will have the option of paying for a test before checking in.
It costs £80 and the result is guaranteed within an hour, with the aim to help passengers travelling to countries where proof of a negative Covid test result is required on arrival.
The rapid saliva swab, available at Heathrow Terminals 2 and 5 through a purpose-built facility run by Collinson and Swissport, is known as a Lamp (Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification) test.
It is quicker than a PCR test because the sample does not need to be sent to a laboratory. However Collinson said the Lamp test is "slightly less sensitive" than the PCR version.
Although Lamp is considered to be much better than the antigen test option.
Despite this development in the UK’s testing capabilities, the new facility is only for passengers flying out of Heathrow as the government has not yet given its backing to testing travellers on arrival.
Speaking at Airlines 2050 on Monday (19 October) transport secretary Grant Shapps assured the aviation sector government was looking at developing two systems – a domestic “test and release” scheme for arrivals and a wider international strategy to suit more frequent flyers in which testing would be recognised and valid across different countries.
Shapps revealed he was in discussions with the US Department for Homeland Security about trialling a transatlantic testing system.