Fears are mounting that the COVID testing system for people entering the UK is not suitable, as travelers say they have not received expensive test kits or results from private providers.
People arriving in the UK from countries not on the ‘red list’ must currently self-quarantine for 10 days and pay for PCR COVID tests to be carried out on the second and eighth day to be allowed to leave self-isolation.
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The government has a list of vendors from which travelers can purchase the tests, with companies providing a reference number to be able to board the flight, then sending the tests to them at home, with the results emailed to them.
The vendors themselves declare that they meet the standards, and there are also a limited number of labs that can process the tests, which also test for variants.
But hundreds of people have reported that the tests never arrived, arrived late, or their results weren’t returned – and some companies say companies are refusing to reimburse them for the tests which cost around £ 200.
A Facebook group of people complaining about the issues has grown to 1,700 in recent weeks, with fears that if this is not sorted out by May 17 – the earliest Britons will be allowed to go on holiday to l foreigner – the problem could be much bigger.
Agnes Kegl, from Maidenhead, bought tests for herself and her son, Aron, for £ 400 when they returned from Hungary for work – but did not receive a test kit until 13 days after arriving in the UK .
She had to buy more tests from another provider – an additional £ 400 – in order to be able to leave quarantine after the NHS COVID helpline answering machine said she would have to quarantine her until that she get the negative tests and results.
The government then clarified that people could leave quarantine after 14 days with no results.
Ms Kegl had to involve her bank to possibly receive a refund, even though it was only £ 120, after the supplier initially did not respond and then sent a few different emails saying she would be refunded in different time frames – but it never came.
After purchasing the tests, the provider she used, which was only created in November, was taken off the government list without explanation.
She told Sky News: “It was frustrating and I felt they were trying to monetize COVID – I was in a Catch-22 with having to go back to work but I couldn’t get out of quarantine.”
Meanwhile, Canterbury’s Olga Harrison bought the £ 380 tests for herself and her son back from Russia, but nothing ever happened.
She told Sky News: “We have received a lot of calls from Track and Trace asking for our results, but we haven’t had the tests and the NHS has sent an email saying if nothing happens you can be released from quarantine after the 10th day.
“I was shocked and it made me not believe in the system because it seemed like it wasn’t about the variants, it was like a travel test.
“I was worried that we were free not to be tested because my son’s father is over 60 and his grandparents are elderly.”
Ms Harrison repeatedly requested a refund, but they failed to do so, and HSBC ultimately gave her a ‘charge back’.
“I would expect this in a dictatorship, in countries like Russia where I come from, but I never thought it could happen here – nothing is going to happen to these companies,” she said. declared.
The government said it “does not endorse or recommend any test provider” and people should do their own research on providers.
Some labs Sky News spoke to blamed Royal Mail and said some people did not return the tests properly, or only wanted to pay for the reference number to get on their flight and not to be able to do the tests – although they have to buy them as a package.
Royal Mail told Sky News it has urged suppliers to use its tracking service, “although this is not always the case”, and said it maintains hundreds of thousands of test kits for the NHS every day “both quickly and efficiently”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that the price of ‘government-approved commercial PCR tests for travel’ would be reduced, with some companies charging as low as £ 44.90 for a test.
A government spokesperson said: “We carefully monitor issues raised by the public, raising every complaint with private testing providers.
“We also monitor the performance of all suppliers, including their delivery and testing times.
“We will take prompt action against any company that provides inadequate service.”