PCR Tests - Guide & FAQs
This guide will inform you with everything you need to know about PCR testing:
Introduction to PCR Tests for Travel
What is a PCR test?
A Covid-19 PCR test looks for the Covid-19 virus on a swab sample collected from the back of the throat and nose. It works by detecting the genetic material in the virus called RNA.
What does PCR stand for?
PCR is an abbreviation for Polymerase Chain Reaction.
Can I use an NHS PCR test for travel?
NHS tests cannot be used for international travel. Instead, you must use a private provider like Medicspot who can issue you a doctor-signed certificate.
Which countries require a PCR test for entry from the UK?
Different countries require different entry regulations. Some still require a PCR test before arrival. To check whether your destination needs a PCR test, you can check the UK government website.
Are PCR tests acceptable for travel to and from the UK?
PCR tests are acceptable for travel both to and from the UK. However, this now depends on your vaccination status.
How to get a PCR Test for Travel
How can I get a PCR test for travel?
You can order a PCR test for travel with Medicspot for just £29.99. This will include your test kit and a free returns label.
Where to get a PCR Test for Travel
Where can I get a PCR test for travel near me?
You can get your PCR test order online if you order before 3pm on Monday-Friday, we will dispatch your test kit on the same day.
Taking a PCR Test for Travel
How do I take a PCR test?
A PCR test involves inserting a thin, flexible stick with a cotton tip into your tonsil and/or nostrils in order to sample any fragments of viruses. The swab is rotated several times in both before being withdrawn and is then sealed in a tube to be sent to a lab for analysis. See the infographic below for a step by step visual on how to perform the PCR test yourself.
Can I take the PCR myself?
Yes, you can take the PCR test yourself. You can find the step-by-step guide on how to perform the PCR test above.
What is included in my test kit?
Your private test kit will include an instructions manual, a cotton swab, sample tube, clear sealable bag, a return box with a security label and a free Royal Mail returns label.
How does a PCR test work?
A Covid-19 PCR test is a type of molecular test that works by looking at and detecting the presence of the RNA (Ribonucleic acid) component of the Coronavirus. This is usually done by testing a swab sample.
When should I take a PCR test for travel?
- If you are travelling internationally and your destination country requires PCR test results as an entry regulation.
PCR Travel Test Costs
How much does a PCR test for travel cost?
At Medicspot, we provide cheap and reliable PCR testing for just £29.99, including a free Royal Mail return label, live customer service 7 days a week and free doctor-signed certificate.
PCR Travel Test Results
How accurate are PCR tests for travel
A positive result is correct nearly 100% of the time. However, it may remain positive after the virus has cleared.
How long does a PCR test result take?
PCR tests need to be transported to large laboratories to be analysed for the Covid-19 virus, so the process may take up to 72 hours to get the result. To ensure you get your result in time before your flight, we will process your test result as soon as our lab receives your sample. Click here to find out more.
Can a PCR test give a false negative result?
Although a PCR test is regarded as the better option to detect Coronavirus, they are not perfect. A PCR test may result in a false negative depending on when and how the swab test is taken. For instance, if the test is done on someone who has been infected one or two days prior to taking the test, or who was infected a few weeks before the test, there is the chance of getting a false-negative result.
The way in which the swab sample was taken from the tonsil or nostril can also influence the likelihood of a false-negative result. However, in England, the UK government states that PCR tests should not show more than 5% false positive or negative results. Therefore, it is advised that you book your test from a trusted provider that uses accredited UKAS laboratories.
Can a PCR test give a false positive result?
Yes, but this is highly unlikely. The main reasons for false-positive results are laboratory error and off-target reaction (that is, the test cross-reacting with something that’s not SARS-CoV-2). Laboratory errors include clerical error, testing the wrong sample, cross-contamination from someone else’s positive sample, or problems with the reagents used (such as chemicals, enzymes and dyes). Someone who has had COVID-19 and recovered might also show a false-positive result.
Can having the vaccine result in a positive PCR swab test?
No, the current vaccines would not cause your Covid-19 PCR swab test to be positive.
What should I do if my PCR test result is positive?
If you receive a positive PCR test you, and anyone you live with, must self-isolate to avoid spreading the infection to other people. The self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test if you do not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days. If you live in a care home or in supported living, you may need to self-isolate for 14 days instead of 10. You must inform your employer, school or nursery of your result.
What does a negative PCR swab test result mean?
A negative test result means that there was no evidence of genetic material of Covid-19 in the swab of airways. This is usually interpreted as meaning that you are not infected with Covid-19.
Can I travel if I receive a negative PCR test result?
You can travel if you have a negative test result. However, if you are boarding a flight, this must be accompanied by a fit to fly certificate signed by a doctor. For more information on how to obtain a fit to fly certificate with Medicspot click here.
What should I do if my PCR test is void or invalid?
If you had a PCR test and your sample could not be read, you will need to take another test as soon as possible, and should self-isolate until you get the result of the second test if:
- You had a test because you had symptoms
- Someone you live with has tested positive or has symptoms and has not had a negative test result
- You have been told you have been in contact with someone who tested positive
- You are in quarantine because you have recently travelled to England from abroad.
When can I redo my test?
Anytime. But be aware that even after the virus has cleared it usually takes over 2 weeks before the genetic material of the virus is no longer detectable in your airways. Some people continue to have a positive test result for 3 months.
Types of Covid Tests for Travel
What is the difference between PCR and Lateral Flow tests?
PCR swab tests look for genetic fragments (RNA) of the virus. They will pick up most, but not all, positive cases. They are useful when somebody isn’t sure if they have Covid-19.
Lateral flow tests look for proteins produced by the virus called antigens. They may miss more positive cases than PCR swab tests, but they can be done quickly and easily. They are useful when somebody thinks that it is unlikely that they have Covid-19 and need a quick answer.
Is a PCR test the same as an NAAT test?
Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT) is a laboratory diagnostic test used to confirm the presence of viral genetic material. It does so by detecting the presence of Covid-19 viral RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequences in the sample. Since these RNA sequences are very small, the NAAT works by amplifying it using an RT-PCR method to reliably detect small amounts of infection. In other words, NAAT uses many methods including the RT-PCR method.
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