The UK government is warning British travellers not to use NHS coronavirus tests to prove they don’t have the disease before they go on holiday.
As the health service struggles to meet testing demand, those planning on jetting off have been told not to expect a free test before they fly.
Instead, those needing proof they are Covid-negative have been told to pay for a test with a private testing centre.
The move, which will cost holidaymakers between £99-£200 per person, aims to free up the already over-burdened health service, urging only those who have symptoms should get tested.
The government has suggested that those needing to take a test in order to be able to enter another country should do an internet search to find their nearest private centre.
But they are also warned to check with the embassy of their destination country to make sure the private test will meet the requirements set out by the individual government.
For instance, while Cyprus is on the UK government travel corridor, the Cypriot government requires arrivals from the UK to obtain a negative result within 72 hours before travel.
A statement on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website states: “You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
“The UK government guide to testing for COVID 19 contains useful links and further information. Internet search of the words ‘COVID testing near me’ will bring up many private and local testing facilities (fees can vary).
“You may want to check with the relevant Embassy that the test you decide on meets the entry requirements for the country in question.”
Private coronavirus testing costs upwards of £99 depending on the provider – with some testing facilities already advertising “fit to fly” test and certificates upon a negative result.
It comes as the NHS deals with a backlog of coronavirus tests, and in many cases sick people being told to travel hundreds of miles in order to be swabbed for the disease.
The government is urging that only those with symptoms should be requesting a test to free up the NHS Test and Trace service for those that really need it.