Covid UK: Dubai goes on the quarantine list


Celebrities are rushing back to the UK from Dubai before Britain forces international arrivals to have a negative Covid result up to 72 hours before they fly back.

Love Island’s Wes Nelson was among the first wave flying home ahead of the new restrictions from Friday.

The influencer shared a picture on a plane with a glass of champagne as he watched a film in a travel bed.

He got back before passengers returning to the UK from the UAE had to quarantine for 10 days, which was brought in at 4am Tuesday.

But from Friday they will need to have a negative Covid test – using a PCR test or on some occasions a LAMP or lateral flow test – from up to 72 hours before their flight.

Celebrities understood to still be in Dubai include Love Island star Jess Gale and Geordie Shore's Chloe Ferry (pictured)

Dubai has become a popular lockdown holiday destination for the social media elite with influencers and reality stars jetting off to the city for winter sun. Celebrities understood to still be in Dubai include Love Island star Jess Gale (left) and Geordie Shore’s Chloe Ferry (right)

Love Island's Wes Nelson was among those flying home ahead of the new rules from 4am Tuesday

Love Island’s Wes Nelson was among those flying home ahead of the new rules from 4am Tuesday

From 4am on January 15, passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane - including UK nationals - will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure

From 4am on January 15, passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure

Nelson had been out with fellow reality TV stars from Love Island, The Only Way is Essex and Geordie Shore.

He appeared to dodge the rules brought in today by flying back to the UK early yesterday, according to his Instagram page.

But others such as Amber Gill, Georgia Steel and Malin Andersson appear to still be out there and, unless the current rules change, will have to isolate on return.

Meanwhile Love Island’s Arabella Chi yesterday jetted out to Dubai before heading to Egypt for modelling work.

She posted on her Instagram page: ‘I know with everything that’s going on at the moment that travelling should be limited but I just wanted to reach out to you guys and say the reason I am travelling and along side this I will be taking extra precautions to make sure I protect myself and most importantly others.

‘I am travelling to Dubai as I have a shoot on Thursday and I have some meetings set up with modelling agencies out there. I am then going onto Egypt to work.’

Social media influencers have been heavily criticised for soaking up the winter sun while the rest of the UK suffers in lockdown back home.

Joanna Chimonides

Gabby Allen

Joanna Chimonides (left) and Gabby Allen (right) are also soaking up the sun in Dubai 

Love Island's Amber Rose Gill has shared pictures in the last few weeks of her time out in Dubai

Love Island’s Amber Rose Gill has shared pictures in the last few weeks of her time out in Dubai

Meanwhile Arabella Chi yesterday jetted out to Dubai before heading to Egypt for modelling work

Meanwhile Arabella Chi yesterday jetted out to Dubai before heading to Egypt for modelling work

How to get a Covid test in destinations popular with UK tourists 

SPAIN

Spain has banned British tourists from flying there but those already in the country can fly back home. If they test positive they will have to quarantine at their hotel or holiday accommodation for 14 days.

The country has embarked on a large increase in its PRC and antigen testing, which now stand at 180,000 a week. A (Transcription-Mediated Amplification (TMA) test takes two hours to show results and costs about €60 – compared to €100 for a PCR.

FRANCE

France banned British tourists on December 20 following the emergency of the new strain of coronavirus. French citizens and truck drivers can enter but only with a negative PCR test from the last 72 hours.

People in France can search through a map at sante.gouv.fr site to find a test centre near them, including whether they offer PCR or antigen tests. The tests cost €54 but are reimbursed for those on the French health system.

ITALY

Entry into Italy is only allowed for residents or those with ‘absolute necessity’, declared in writing. The country offers PCR tests (called ‘un tampone’ in Italian, or a ‘swab’) and antigen tests (called ‘tampone rapido’ in Italian, or a ‘fast swab’).

Italy is thought to have encouraged Britain to adopt the rapid tests after becoming the first country to hugely invest in them last year. Those looking to get an urgent PCR test can call the 1500 number for help and the tests are free because they are considered emergency procedures.

From 4am on January 15, passengers arriving by boat, train or plane will have to take a Covid test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure.

They will need to present proof of a negative test result – using a PCR test or on some occasions a LAMP or lateral flow test – to their carrier on boarding while the UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrivals.

Jon Deeks, professor of biostatistics at Birmingham University and lead of the Cochrane Review of Covid-19 diagnostic tests, told Sky News the messaging about the lateral flow tests has ‘not been done well’.

He said: ‘Just before Christmas schools were given a template letter, which had the wording in it, and it went to parents saying ‘This test is as good at detecting cases as the PCR’.

‘Now, frankly, that is completely incorrect, and that is the sort of wrong messaging which we have to make sure the Government doesn’t continue to put forward.

‘This weekend the Business Minister was quoted as saying ‘This will make workplaces completely safe’. It’s not the right way to tell people about this.’

He added: ‘I think there’s an anxiety that if we tell people the truth as to how bad this test is people won’t bother getting it.

‘But we have to do the truth – we can’t tell people that the test is better than it is.’

New arrivals who flout the rules will face a minimum £500 fine, while the operator who transported them will also be fined.

Passengers will still have to quarantine for 10 days regardless of their test results, transport minister Robert Courts said in a statement.

British nationals attempting to return home who test positive must not travel and must follow the local guidance in their host country, and contact the nearest consulate if they need support.

Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al-Quwain, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah have been added to the UK’s quarantine list – meaning social media stars at the Middle Eastern holiday hotspot will need to self-isolate for 10 days.

Travellers returning to the UK from the United Arab Emirates will have to quarantine from 4am tomorrow following a 52 per cent surge in the number of Covid cases. Pictured: Dubai

Travellers returning to the UK from the United Arab Emirates will have to quarantine from 4am tomorrow following a 52 per cent surge in the number of Covid cases. Pictured: Dubai

Travellers returning to the UK from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will have to quarantine from tomorrow. Pictured: the 75-storey Gevora Hotel in the Gulf metropolis of Dubai

Travellers returning to the UK from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will have to quarantine from tomorrow. Pictured: the 75-storey Gevora Hotel in the Gulf metropolis of Dubai

Transport minister Mr Courts said: ‘If a passenger arrives in England without a pre-departure negative test result they will be fined.

‘We will amend the International Travel Regulations so that fines, starting at £500, can be levied on non-compliant passengers.’

Travellers will have to take an internationally approved test, and Mr Courts said guidance on what was acceptable would be made available to passengers and carriers.

‘We will keep test standards and innovative testing technologies under review,’ he said.

The new rules apply to almost every country in the world, including those on England’s travel corridor list, and further compliance checks are due to be conducted by Border Force staff.

DUBAI: Who has visited the UAE city

LOVE ISLAND  

Georgia Steel, Kaz Crossley, Joanna Chimonides, Francesca Allen, Amber Gill, Malin Andersson, Theo Campbell, Molly-Mae Hague, Tommy Fury, Maura Higgins, Chris Taylor, Amber Davies, Elle Brown, Laura Anderson, Hayley Hughes, Jess and Eve Gale, Arabella Chi, Demi Jones and Wes Nelson

TOWIE 

Amber Turner, Dan Edgar, Yazmin Oukhellou, James Lock, Demi Sims, Kelsey Stratford and Ella Rae Wise

GEORDIE SHORE 

Chloe Ferry, Bethan Kershaw and Sophie Kasaei 

SPORTS STARS 

Amir Khan and Faryal Makhdoom, Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy 

Passengers travelling to England from other UK countries, as well as the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, will not be covered by the new regulations.

Children under 11 travelling from any country are also exempt from pre-departure testing.

The DfT said there would also be a limited number of exemptions for people like hauliers, air, international rail and maritime crew to allow the free flow of freight.

Travellers from three overseas territories – St Helena, Ascension Island and the Falklands – will be exempt due to lack of testing infrastructure.

Passengers from Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia and Barbados will be exempt until 4am on January 21, again due to lack of testing infrastructure in those countries.

Mr Courts said: ‘Measures are likely to be in place until the end of the current lockdown, although a review will take place before the end of that period.’

He added: ‘With the addition of pre-departure testing requirements, our already robust system to protect against imported cases of coronavirus is further strengthened and will provide the greatest overall protection against the risk of transmission during travel to England and after arrival.’

Other countries in the UK are expected to announce their own plans for pre-arrival testing in the coming days.

Dubai has become a popular lockdown holiday destination for the social media elite with countless influencers and reality stars jetting off to the city for some winter sun.

In November, the UAE was added to the Government’s travel corridor list – meaning Britons could return to England and not need to quarantine.

But on Sunday, Scotland ordered all arrivals from Dubai to self-isolate for 10 days from 4am on Monday after a surge in Covid cases in Dubai arrivals.

It comes as Britain endured its deadliest week in the pandemic so far, with 529 people dying after testing positive for coronavirus.  

The Transport Secretary tweeted: ‘The LATEST data indicates we need to immediately remove the #UAE from the #TRAVELCORRIDOR list.

‘From 0400 Tuesday 12 Jan anyone arriving from the UAE will need to SELF-ISOLATE.’

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it will ‘take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus, including if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high’. 

Grant Shapps tweeted: 'We need to immediately remove the UAE from the #TRAVELCORRIDOR list. From 0400 Tuesday 12 Jan anyone arriving from the UAE will need to SELF-ISOLATE'

Grant Shapps tweeted: ‘We need to immediately remove the UAE from the #TRAVELCORRIDOR list. From 0400 Tuesday 12 Jan anyone arriving from the UAE will need to SELF-ISOLATE’

People ride a boat at the Ras El-Khor wildlife sanctuary near the old quarter of Dubai

People ride a boat at the Ras El-Khor wildlife sanctuary near the old quarter of Dubai

Aerial view of the luxury Burj Al Arab (left) and Jumayra Beach (right) hotels in Dubai

Aerial view of the luxury Burj Al Arab (left) and Jumayra Beach (right) hotels in Dubai

Lockdown measures remain in place, meaning everyone must stay at home unless travelling for a very limited set of reasons, including for work. 

This means people can no longer travel to take holidays or travel internationally unless for work or other legally permitted reasons.

Those in breach of the rules face penalties starting at £200, rising to a maximum of £6,400.

Celebrities understood to still be in Dubai include Love Island stars Jess Gale and Georgia Steel and Geordie Shore’s Chloe Ferry.

They have been heavily criticised for travelling over the festive period, with Kym Marsh hitting out at influencers in Dubai amid the coronavirus restrictions in the UK.

The TV presenter, 44, admitted she was left unimpressed by photos on social media of reality stars living it up in the UAE while Britain is in the midst of its third lockdown.

Many stars have travelled to Dubai using a ‘work’ loophole but Ms Marsh admitted in her OK! magazine column she thinks work trips should be put off for the time being.  

Love Island stars have reportedly been sent death threats after jetting to Dubai during the coronavirus pandemic (Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury pictured in Dubai last month)

Love Island stars have reportedly been sent death threats after jetting to Dubai during the coronavirus pandemic (Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury pictured in Dubai last month)

One agent told the Mirror an unidentified star received ‘death threats in [their] direct messages’ following a recent trip to Dubai. 

They said: ‘It’s been relentless. We warned them not to travel abroad while a lot of the nation is under severe restrictions as it’s a terrible look, but they ignored it.’   

The source added that ‘work’ for influencers consists of ‘doing vlogs’ and ‘advertising diet drinks’, which allows the stars to travel in return for publicity.

They added: ‘But it has gone down like a lead balloon with their fans, and you have to wonder if it is really worth it.’  

Love Island stars are among those who have travelled to the UAE in recent months, with some jetting off while parts of the UK remained in strict Tier 3 and Tier 4 lockdown.

However, others departed from areas under Tier 2 lockdown in December, when international travel was permitted.  

Before the third lockdown began, Love Islanders including Laura Anderson, Molly-Mae Hague, Maura Higgins, Amber Davies, Georgia Harrison and Kady McDermott, were all pictured in Dubai. 

The desert city has been an ideal choice for many as visitors aren’t currently required to quarantine upon their return to the UK.

'Relentless abuse': It has been claimed that some Love Island stars have received 'relentless' abuse and even death threats (Kady McDermott pictured in Dubai on Friday - there is no suggestion she is the reality star referenced)

‘Relentless abuse’: It has been claimed that some Love Island stars have received ‘relentless’ abuse and even death threats (Kady McDermott pictured in Dubai on Friday – there is no suggestion she is the reality star referenced)

In November, the United Arab Emirates was added to the Government's travel corridor list meaning Britons could return to England and not need to quarantine

In November, the United Arab Emirates was added to the Government’s travel corridor list meaning Britons could return to England and not need to quarantine

Many stars have insisted their trips are for ‘work’, as the Government currently asks UK residents to avoid any non-essential travel. 

Many influencers have been forced to defend their actions to angry fans on social media after they were criticised for globetrotting during the pandemic, with the UK recording upwards of 68,000 Covid cases yesterday. 

In December, Molly-Mae Hague, 21, who flew to the Maldives following a break in Dubai with Tommy Fury, insisted she didn’t break any rules, as the couple left their Manchester home under Tier 2 restrictions.        

She said: ‘In response to the messages I’m already getting about us being away throughout this time… 

‘Please understand that Tommy and I left the UK from Cheshire which was in Tier 2 at the time. We didn’t break any rules coming away.

‘If we knew these rules were going to be put in place then obviously we would have never left the UK. 

‘The minute we arrive home we will be following government guidelines.’ 

Celtic were been rocked by the news 13 players and three members of their coaching staff have been forced to isolate after their controversial trip to Dubai.

Celtic spent six days in the UAE, where pictures emerged showing members of the squad not distancing or wearing face coverings. 

Celtic confirmed  on Sunday one player tested positive for Covid-19 after their trip to Dubai

Celtic confirmed  on Sunday one player tested positive for Covid-19 after their trip to Dubai

British holidaymakers may end up trapped in hotel rooms abroad for two weeks if they test positive at the end of their holiday or business trip (file photo)

British holidaymakers may end up trapped in hotel rooms abroad for two weeks if they test positive at the end of their holiday or business trip (file photo)

After being tested upon their return to Glasgow, they had one positive case in defender Christopher Jullien, who is currently injured for the next four months. Manager Neil Lennon and assistant John Kennedy are among those now isolating.

Nicola Sturgeon, who had questioned whether Celtic were following social distancing rules, said: ‘Elite sport has privileges and these privileges can’t be abused. I hope Celtic reflect seriously.’

This week, holidaymakers were warned that they may end up trapped in hotel rooms abroad for two weeks due to new rules preventing British tourists from travelling home if they test positive for coronavirus.  

Britons who test positive at the end of their holiday or business trip will have to follow that country’s local quarantine rules – which could mean up to two weeks confined to a hotel room in places such as Italy, Spain and Dubai. 

Travel expert Alex Macheras told the Mail on Sunday: ‘People need to remember that if you test positive in a foreign country then they will be bound by their local laws and may have to quarantine for up to two weeks.’

In Italy, travellers have to test negative twice before they are released from the country’s two-week quarantine. Dubai also has two-week isolation orders in place for infected people.

Spain has banned British tourists from flying there but those already in the country can fly back home. If they test positive they will have to quarantine at their hotel or holiday accommodation for 14 days.

Mr Macheras said: ‘If people are travelling in a global pandemic then they have to accept there’s going to be disruption and your trip could end up being much longer than you planned.’

UAE races to vaccinate half its ten million population by April following a 100% rise in Covid infections since British reality stars began posting images of their sun-drenched holidays

  • Dubai has been a holiday hotspot for Britons with few local Covid restrictions 
  • Covid cases have surged to record levels in UAE with 2,000 new infections a day 
  • Britain removed the UAE from its travel corridor amid the surge in cases 
  • The UAE is now in a race to vaccinate its population to bring infections down, with a target of 50% by April 

The United Arab Emirates is racing to vaccinate half of its citizens by April as it battles a dramatic surge in Covid cases since the turn of the year.

The Arab nation, comprising the holiday hotspot of Dubai where British influencers have been flocking in recent weeks to take advantage of lax lockdown rules, has seen daily cases double from 1,000 a day to 2,000 a day in just two weeks. 

The rise in cases has prompted the UK to end its travel corridor with the country which had been open since November, sparking a rush to get home for Britons still in the Middle Eastern country.

Tourists will now have to quarantine for 10 days upon their return to Britain and will need to present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of their departure. 

The UAE has set an ambitious target of vaccinating half of its 10million citizens by the end of March and has already given shots to more than 12 per cent, second only to Israel in doses administered per capita. 

The vaccines are being provided free of charge to the whole population, including its significant migrant workforce which makes up around 90 per cent of the country. 

A total of 127 vaccination centres are in operation, delivering the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Chinese Sinopharm jabs.

The Sinopharm vaccine was originally tested on 31,000 volunteers in the UAE and found to be 86 per cent effective, and the UAE is the first country outside of China to approve it.

It is being used in the capital of Abu Dhabi and more than 3million doses have already been shipped, whereas Dubai is using the Pfizer vaccine. 

Dubai aims to vaccinate 70 per cent of its total population by the end of 2021, a figure which is hoped will ensure herd immunity, meaning enough people will be protected from the virus to reduce its transmission. 

The first phase of the rollout is targeting ‘priority groups’, including those 60 and older, people with chronic medical conditions, those with disabilities and frontline workers

The second phase will begin in April when the jabs will be offered more widely to the general public. 

Dubai, which in 2019 had a population of over 3.3million, has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, which hurt its key tourism, real estate and trade sectors.

The UAE’s health ministry has registered the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for emergency use, but none of the other emirates has so far announced plans to roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for which data has shown 95 per cent efficacy.

Asked about coordination between the UAE’s seven emirates, Khaja said: ‘There is a (national) vaccination campaign in the UAE and all the emirates are covering their vaccine programmes.’

Transport minister Robert Courts said: ‘If a passenger arrives in England without a pre-departure negative test result they will be fined.

‘We will amend the International Travel Regulations so that fines, starting at £500, can be levied on non-compliant passengers.’

A number of popular holiday resorts remain on the UK’s travel corridor despite its huge surge in cases, with holidaymakers able to return from destinations including Australia, Barbados, the Maldives and St Lucia without having to quarantine.

January has already seen the UAE break many of its Covid records, seeing its highest number of recorded daily cases on Saturday with 2,998, and its highest weekly average of 2,607.

The UAE is second only to Israel in vaccinations administered per capita, with nearly 12 per cent having received their first doses, compared to nearly four per cent in the UK

The UAE is second only to Israel in vaccinations administered per capita, with nearly 12 per cent having received their first doses, compared to nearly four per cent in the UK

The country announced 2,404 new daily infections on Monday, with three confirmed deaths.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia appears to be controlling the virus, with only 140 new cases on Monday well below its record high of 4,919 in June.

Other nearby countries including Oman, Yemen, Iran and Iraq are also reporting lower infection rates, suggesting the UAE’s relaxed measures and increased tourism may have led to the uptick in cases.

Dubai had a harsh lockdown at the start of the pandemic but has since imposed few restrictions, keeping restaurants, religious sites, schools and hotel bars open to attract British tourists fleeing harsher measures.

Tourists could enter if they presented a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of their arrival. 

The time period is more relaxed than other countries such as Singapore who require a test to be taken within 72 hours of travel. 

The UAE’s latest infection rise comes after many British influencers promoted Dubai as a holiday destination during the pandemic.

Trending Travel, which uses celebrities to advertise holidays that customers can then experience for themselves, says hard-hit companies have been pushing the getaways on social media.

Grant Shapps tweeted: 'We need to immediately remove the UAE from the #TRAVELCORRIDOR list. From 0400 Tuesday 12 Jan anyone arriving from the UAE will need to SELF-ISOLATE'

Grant Shapps tweeted: ‘We need to immediately remove the UAE from the #TRAVELCORRIDOR list. From 0400 Tuesday 12 Jan anyone arriving from the UAE will need to SELF-ISOLATE’

The company encourages reality stars from Love Island and TOWIE to share glamorous bikini snaps from their holidays while tagging their brand.

But CEO Keith Herman told the BBC he has instructed the stars to stop sharing posts during the latest lockdown, fearing a backlash.

Flights to Dubai have been cheap, despite the mutant strain in England which caused many countries to enforce bans to incoming tourists.

Travel and tourism normally contributes more than 11 per cent to Dubai’s GDP, and the luxury city has been promoting a Visit Dubai campaign since July in a bid to revive the sector.

But the relaxed local rules and the lack of travel bans or quarantine rules for its many incoming travellers will be questioned amid the latest surge in cases. 

Celebrities understood to still be in Dubai include Love Island stars Jess Gale and Georgia Steel and Geordie Shore’s Chloe Ferry. 

Stars have been heavily criticised on social media for travelling over the festive period, with Kym Marsh hitting out at influencers travelling to Dubai amid the coronavirus restrictions in the UK.

The TV presenter, 44, admitted she was left unimpressed by photos on social media of reality stars living it up in the UAE while Britain is in the midst of its third lockdown.

Many stars have travelled to Dubai using a ‘work’ loophole but Ms Marsh admitted in her OK! magazine column she thinks work trips should be put off for the time being.  

One agent told the Mirror an unidentified star received ‘death threats in [their] direct messages’ following a recent trip to Dubai. 

They said: ‘It’s been relentless. We warned them not to travel abroad while a lot of the nation is under severe restrictions as it’s a terrible look, but they ignored it.’   

The source added that ‘work’ for influencers consists of ‘doing vlogs’ and ‘advertising diet drinks’, which allows the stars to travel in return for publicity.

They added: ‘But it has gone down like a lead balloon with their fans, and you have to wonder if it is really worth it.’  

Love Island stars are among those who have travelled to the UAE in recent months, with some jetting off while parts of the UK remained in strict Tier 3 and Tier 4 lockdown.

HOW LATERAL FLOW TESTS ARE ONLY TRUSTWORTHY WHEN ADMINISTERED BY TRAINED STAFF

Lateral flow tests are only accurate at diagnosing coronavirus when administered by trained professionals, studies have repeatedly shown. 

The tests, which give results in as little as 15 minutes, use swabs of the nose or throat. Samples are then mixed in a testing liquid and put into a plastic cassette which can detect the presence or absence of coronavirus and then produce an image of a line, the same way as a pregnancy test, to indicate whether it is positive or negative.

The Department of Health and NHS are instructing people to use the tests on themselves, despite manufacturers of some kits saying they shouldn’t be used as DIY swabs.

Both the swabbing procedure and the use of the test cassette can easily be done wrong and affect the accuracy of the test. 

If the swab isn’t done for long enough, or deep enough into the nose or throat, it may not pick up fragments of virus. Medical professionals are also able to use nasopharyngeal swabs, which go right to the back of the nostril, whereas this is not advised for people who test themselves.

And if the sample isn’t properly inserted into the cassette the result might be wrong, or people may misread the display when it produces a result. 

SELF-TESTING CUT ACCURACY FROM 79% TO 58%

A University of Oxford and Public Health England evaluation of the Innova lateral flow test, which is being widely used in the UK, found its sensitivity – the proportion of positive cases it detected – fell from 79 per cent to 58 per cent when it was used by untrained members of the public instead of lab experts. 

Based on this evaluation, officials pushed ahead and used it for a real-world self-testing trial.

PILOT IN LIVERPOOL FOUND FEWER THAN HALF OF POSITIVES

When the same Innova test was trialled on members of the public in Liverpool – with people taking their own swabs and trained military staff operating the tests – the swabs picked up just 40 per cent of positive cases.

In the study the rapid tests detected 891 positive results, compared to lab-based PCR swabs that found 2,829 positives in the same group. This means 1,938 people got a wrong negative result from the rapid test.

The study didn’t compare this to professionally done rapid tests, but the manufacturer Innova claims its test is 95 per cent sensitive in lab conditions. 

…BUT TESTING DONE BY MEDICS IN SLOVAKIA ‘REDUCED INFECTIONS’ 

Despite rapid lateral flow tests getting bad press, officials in Slovakia used them on 5.2million people – almost the entire population of 5.5m – in a trial that a study later estimated to have cut the country’s infection rate by 60 per cent.

The tests used were between 70 and 90 per cent accurate and all the swabs and evaluations were carried out by trained medical workers. They used deep nasopharyngeal swabs, that go to the back of the nose, whereas self-testing generally relies on a swab of only the nostril.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine researchers said that the scheme successfully weeded out coronavirus cases that wouldn’t have been found otherwise, slashing the number of cases by over half in a week during a lockdown. 

HOW RAPID TESTS ARE DIFFERENT TO LAB-BASED PCR SWABS 

Lateral flow tests are an alternative to the gold standard PCR test – known scientifically as polymerase chain reaction testing – which is more expensive and more labour-intensive but more accurate.

PCR tests also use a swab but this is then processed using high-tech laboratory equipment to analyse the genetic sequence of the sample to see if any of it matches the genes of coronavirus.

This is a much more long-winded and expensive process, involving multiple types of trained staff, and the analysis process can take hours, with the whole process from swab to someone receiving their result taking days.

It is significantly more accurate, however. In ideal conditions the tests are almost 100 per cent accurate at spotting the virus, although this may be more like 70 per cent in the real world. 



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