Getting a PCR test after having Covid

If you’ve contracted and recovered from Covid in the last 90 days, the good news is that research suggests you may have some natural immunity to the virus. However, when it comes to travelling, this might not be enough to allow you to travel freely to all destinations. To help ensure you’re fully prepared and Covid-19 safe before planning your next trip, we’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know about the rules on getting a PCR test for travel after recovering from Covid.

How long after Covid are you contagious?

Government guidelines state that if you contract Covid-19 you can potentially infect others 48 hours before developing symptoms and up to 10 full days afterwards. Even if you’ve got very mild symptoms, a positive test means you could pass the virus on to others at any point within this timeframe and, of course, those in the same household as someone testing positive are at a considerably higher risk of also developing Covid-19.

Isolating for 10 full days after symptoms have started is the law in the UK, regardless of vaccination status.

How long can you test positive for Covid-19?

Government advice states that positive results may be returned for PCR tests long after the patient is known to be contagious and has recovered from Covid.

here The guidance states: “If you have tested positive by PCR for COVID-19, you will probably have developed some immunity to the disease. However, it cannot be guaranteed that everyone will develop immunity, or how long it will last. It is possible for PCR tests to remain positive for some time after COVID-19 infection.”

Should I get re-tested if I've recently tested positive with a COVID-19 PCR Test?

As it is possible for PCR tests to remain positive for some time after COVID-19 infection, the NHS advises not re-testing within 90 days of a positive PCR test, unless new symptoms present. This aims to avoid any false positives long after the usual timeframe for symptoms or the virus being contagious.

Does testing positive for Covid-19 provide immunity?

If you’ve tested positive for Covid-19, research suggests the immune system is able to recognise the virus pathogen if it is encountered again and produce antibodies and proteins to neutralise the threat. This, however, is by no means a guarantee and it is unclear how long any natural immunity after exposure to Covid lasts for.

How long should I wait after a positive test before travelling?

As mentioned earlier, if you’ve tested positive for Covid in the UK, legally you must self-isolate for at least 10 days. After this, you are free to travel providing you can meet the Covid requirements of your travel destination. It is important to note that once you’ve registered a positive test result, the NHS App will lock users out of their vaccine passports for 14 days. To ensure that you are still able to access your passport, you’re able to download a PDF version with a unique QR code that is valid for 30 days. Most EU countries require a health declaration form which requires visitors to confirm that they have not tested positive within the two weeks prior to arrival.

Should I be worried about testing positive while I’m away?

If you’ve tested negative before your trip, there is still a small possibility you could return a positive result in later PCR tests. If you test positive whilst you’re away and the country does not accept a positive Covid test outside the isolation period, you will need to adhere to that country’s isolation rules. For most EU countries, the enforced period of isolation is also 10 days regardless of vaccination status. Prior to travel, it is key to arrange suitable holiday insurance so that you can contact them in this scenario to help you with your next steps.

Once your isolation period is complete, your return to the UK will remain the same in terms of the day two testing requirement for re-entry. This PCR test is mandatory and failure to return a test may result in a fine of up to £2,000.

Learn more about travel ready testing with Medicspot

Get peace of mind before you leave for your next holiday with Fit To Fly PCR tests and antigen travel COVID-19 tests with Medicspot. Find out exactly which tests you’ll need for your trip here.

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