Last week we spoke about the IATA reiterating calls for governments and airlines to implement streamlined at-airport testing, and it seems there is yet another reason to add to that list. A report by the Lancashire Telegraph revealed that some airline passengers are faking their COVID-19 test results in order to bypass travel restrictions.
The NHS has been advising travelers to get tested privately, as it appears that some airlines and countries deem the results as inadequate. They have also been reserving their test kits for higher priority clinical situations, and for regular testing of NHS workers operating on the front line.
In a statement by the government information services unit, they said: “some airlines require passengers to have recent Covid-19 test results in order to fly. 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. Contact your travel company for the latest information.”
Private tests can cost up to £150 ($195), and in many cases, may not be available in time for last minute travel situations. As a result, some people have turned to doctoring negative results from others in order to get past the requirements required by the airlines and destination countries.
According to one person who spoke to the newspaper, it’s very easy to get an email copy of a negative test rest and change it to suit the required conditions.
“It is quite simple. Everyone knows someone who has had a Covid test.
“You can simply get their negative test and change the name and birthdate to your own. You also put a test date on which is within the time limit required.
“You download the email, change it and then print it.
“People are doing this as you can’t get a Covid test if you have to travel to Pakistan in case of an emergency. It is difficult to get one unless you are a key worker.
“If you put down you have symptoms then you don’t get the test. How can you travel then?”
The newspaper also reported that people in Bradford and Blackburn were paying anywhere from £50 to £150 ($65 – $195) to get doctored results in situations where persons needed last minute negative test copies.
Another traveller said: “We needed a Covid-19 test for a family member and I spoke to one travel agent and he said, ‘Get it done and even if it comes out positive we will provide a negative one for you for £50’.”
The situation does highlight how flawed the system is, limiting the movement of some people who may need to travel for emergency situations. For instance, Pakistan has managed to reduce its daily number of new cases, but now requires that incoming travelers from non-exempt countries provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test result taken 96 hours before the start of their trip. The UK’s own government information website advises that tests should be down privately and not via the NHS, which adds on an extra expense for those who may need to travel for urgent matters.
On a more positive note, travelers flying out of London Heathrow to either Italy or Hong Kong are now undergoing a one-hour rapid test prior to checking in, as part of of a plan to restore public confidence in air travel. The rapid tests were introduced at the airport on October 20, and will aid in helping passengers reduce their quarantine time on arrival. Passengers will be required to book the test in advance, at the cost of £80 ($104).
The testing facilities set up by Collinson and Swissport will operate for four weeks, and will extend their services if there is sufficient passenger demand.
[Featured Photo: geraldfriedrich2/Pixabay]