Wales changes rules on Covid testing for international travel

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Fully vaccinated people arriving in Wales from non-redlisted countries will be able to take a cheaper and faster lateral flow test rather than the PCR version from October 31, it has been announced.

The Welsh government has confirmed that the new rules for people in Wales will start a week after the rules are introduced for people arriving in England.

Read more:All the latest news on the coronaviruses affecting Wales can be found here

Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: ‘As of Sunday 31 October all adults in Wales, who have completed their cycle on two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and the majority of those under the age of 18 , who have traveled from countries that are not on the red list. , will be able to take a lateral flow test no later than the second day of arrival in the UK. “

If people have a positive lateral flow test when they return from overseas travel, they will need to self-isolate for 10 days and have a follow-up PCR test.

People will continue to have the option to book and take a PCR test as a required second day test, as they currently do.

Explaining the difference in start dates with England, Ms Morgan explained: “We are unable to introduce the changes at the same time as we have not received sufficient or timely information from the UK government on the how these changes will work in practice.

“This is not ideal. However, despite the differences for a short time, Welsh residents wishing to travel will be able to do so. The only difference with English residents will be that until October 31, Welsh residents will have to continue to book a day 2 PCR test. “

NHS PCR tests can be booked on the CTM booking portal and private sector testing can be booked from a private provider listed on GOV.UK .

The Prime Minister has repeatedly voiced concerns over the change in testing, accusing the UK government of risking the health of the country by scrapping two PCR tests on the day. Read why here.

The statement added: “We remain concerned about the UK government’s approach – and the speed at which it is opening up international travel and its decisions to change border health measures, which are important protections to prevent the risk of new cases – and new variants. coronavirus – to enter the UK.

“We have consistently urged the UK government to take a precautionary approach to reopening international travel.

“However, it is difficult for us to adopt a different testing regime than that required by the UK government, as the majority of Welsh travelers enter the UK through ports and airports in England. Different testing requirements would result in significant practical issues, confusion between the traveling public, logistics issues, enforcement at our borders and inconvenience for Welsh businesses.

“We made this decision balancing public health needs with those of the travel industry amid the growing openness of international travel. After considering the implications in detail, I reluctantly decided that for practical reasons , close alignment with UK Government arrangements are the most viable option.

“We continue to encourage people to travel only for essential reasons.

“I am concerned that in its haste to introduce these latest changes to international travel, the UK government has created a system that lacks oversight and standards to make the market work.”

The Minister of Health has written to the Ministry of Health and Welfare seeking assurances that the system of day two lateral flow tests will be strengthened for

  • Automatically send a PCR test to anyone who tests positive to minimize delays in the process
  • Explain how the system will be applied and how the concerns highlighted by the Autorité de la concurrence et des Marchés regarding a ‘race to the bottom’ of PCR tests will not recur for lateral flow tests
  • Ensuring the fast and accurate flow of test results from private test providers to Welsh systems, so that the ability of the NHS Test Trace Protect to contact trace persons arriving in Wales is not compromised.

Ms Morgan said: Decisions about international travel should be made on a true four country basis. These are decisions that affect people living in all parts of the UK and we cannot make them in isolation from each other. “

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