Testing for Covid-19
Many countries are requesting those entering from abroad have a Covid-19 PCR test RESULT that demonstrates travellers do not have the illness.
The Exeter and Barnstaple Travel Clinics are now able to provide this service. We are also able to provide the antibody test (see below) that can let you know if you have had the virus.
HOWEVER - some important points to understand.
Firstly, testing is dependant on the availability of kits, over which we have no control. Should our supplier run out, we will not be able to test. This should be taken into consideration when booking any foreign travel.
Secondly, you will need to know the date and time of departure, and your PCR test timing requirements.
PCR Tests for travel
- PCR swab tests have a poor sensitivity, meaning they do not always pick up Covid-19. Therefore you could have Covid-19 even with a negative PCR swab.
- You could still contract Covid-19 between having the PCR test and arriving in the country you are travelling to
- Although 99% of results come back in time, we cannot guarantee this due to the Royal Mail and laboratory services
A letter showing you have had a negative Covid-19 PCR test does not guarantee you are healthy
A test result within 72-hours of departure cannot be guaranteed due to postal and lab times
PCR test price: £145
The PCR Process
When you come to the clinic, we ask you to abide by the following requirements:
- Do not come to the clinic if you or someone you live with have signs of Covid-19
- Only attend the clinic if you have an appointment for a procedure
- Please wear a mask and sanitise your hands on entry
- Pease bring with you a form of photo ID (airports normally require passport ID)
You will be asked a few questions by our reception team and asked to fill out a form
When the nurse is ready, you will be taken into the clinic room. Your details and ID will be confirmed. The swabbing process involves swabbing the tonsil-area of your through, followed by both nostrils. The sample will then be packaged and your data entered onto the laboratory system. After this, you will be asked to pay and then leave the clinic.
Your results will be emailed directly to you by the lab.
Antibody tests are less useful for travel and also not without their flaws.
- A positive Covid-19 antibody test confirms with accuracy that you have had the virus
- However, a negative antibody test
- does not mean you have not had the virus
- does not mean you are immune
- does not mean you cannot carry the virus.
This is because when individuals get Covid-19, they respond in two ways:
- Develop antibodies to kill the virus (lymphoid response)
- Attack the virus directly (myeloid response)
If your body leans more on the myeloid response, you will kill the disease but not develop enough antibodies for them to be picked up when testing. This means, despite the test possibly giving you a sense of reassurance, your behaviour, social distancing and adherence to Government guidelines should not change.
Antibody test price: £50
- We can provide tests for Covid-19 for travel purposes
- Despite being MRHA recognised, there is still a risk of false negative results
- A positive antibody test does not mean you are immune
- A negative test does not mean you have not had Covid-19
PCR Tests - Do I have the virus?
This is achieved by swabbing the nose and throat and sending the sample off for a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. This test multiplies any virus DNA to a point where it can be measured. These are not always accurate and can be difficult to obtain properly.
Antibody tests - Have I had the virus?
This is achieved by taking a sample of blood and testing it for two kinds of virus antibodies (also called immunoglobulins (Ig)). Antibodies are 'Y' shaped proteins that the body makes when it comes into contact with a disease. These are created to help destroy the virus. There are two types we look for when assessing if the body. Immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies are produced within the first few days of an infection, then disappear. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies take longer to produce but are responsible for helping the body remember what the disease looks like. This test is more accurate after 14-days of being exposed to the virus.