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Covid Testing Returning to UK

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
This is a bit of a shaggy dog story and is a tale of 5 PCR tests on return to UK and Home Quarantine.

We left Switzerland a little over 2 weeks ago to drive back, UK number plates, to UK via our boat in N France. France required the standard max 72 hour negative PCR test. This was efficiently done in the village Doctor's surgery 2 days before planned travel with results back 27 hours after the sample. But at CHF180, £150.
As an aside, the village surgery was excellent. When the Doc was doing our Swiss arrival quarantine rapid flow test in late December, I asked if a lump in a finger could be cut out the same day, so that it could heal during quarantine. I went back at 1400, local anaesthetic and out by 1430.

At the Basel CH/FR border Swiss officials and French Gendarme and Douane officers were present. There was no interest from anyone in the PCR tests or passports or 90/180 days, but the FR Douane wanted to know if we had over €10000 cash, or equivalent!!
Run to Douai was no problem and due to the weekend, we went to the local Douai medical laboratory on Monday morning . Walk in, no charge PCR tests and the results 27 hours later. I don't know if there are PCR charges in other popular destination countries.

With negative results, then purchased the UK International Travel Day 2 and Day 8 tests, from a list of providers on Government website. We used the cheapest Now Test at £170 each Also completed the UK Passenger Locator Form the day before travel. All straight forward - but buy tests first as a purchase reference is needed for PLF.
Lots of checking at the Eurotunnel terminal of all documents on mobile phones. Again, no interest in 90/180 days.

Back at home, hunkered down with supermarket deliveries set up. UK of course starts the 10 day Q on Day 0, so 11 days!! But at least not in Hong Kong where required hotel quarantine is 21 days.

Day 2 Now Test kits arrived on Day 1. Great - seemed to be ahead of the game and efficient. We took the gagging swab samples am Day 2, 26 March, and posted in a Royal Mail Priority mailbox. I assumed that the word priority might mean more collections during the day. No, just the usual collection at 1730. But once in the system, speeded along.

Royal Mail Tracking indicated delivery am 27 March. And then the waiting started. Government requirement for Day 2 results is 72 hours from sample to results, so by Day 5 29 March.
By Day 7, 31 March, no results and only a brief explanation of why no results as the lab was overwhelmed, and no Day 8 test kits either.
So, I decided the Day 2 tests were now void, and ordered 2 NHS PCR kits.

Day 8 am and the Now Day 2 test results arrived, again all negative. Tea time and the Now and NHS test kits arrived. So a mass swabbing event and all in the Priority mailbox for the 1730 collection.
NHS samples were in the lab early evening - amazing - and results issued the next evening, 28 hours from sample to results.
Now samples arrived the next morning, Day 9. The Government requirement for Day 8 results is 48 hours from sample to results, so should be by pm Day 10, the last day in Q. Government rules also require 2 negative results in order to leave Q. So, we left quarantine as planned at midnight D10 with the 2 negative results - one Now and one NHS.
One Now D8 result arrived on effectively D12. Still waiting for the second.

The Oncologica test result documentation also had errors - times of samples and receipt times were all wrong. One had sample receipt 2 days before sample time!! Results seem to be issued days before we actually received them.

I was told that only the Oncologica is currently authorised to do these Day2/8 tests, and all test providers send their samples to Oncologica. So unless more labs are authorised and once international travel gets going there could be many more travellers requiring the D2/8 tests and experiencing delays. Especially from Europe where quite a few popular countries are likely to be on the Amber list requiring Home Quarantine and 2/8 day tests.

From the online form filling and paperwork side, all seems quite efficient. However the manual infrastructure behind it all seems to be pretty shambolic. World beating perhaps!!

Overall, just under £1200 for PCR tests to and from Switzerland. And a few free Lateral Flow Tests. All negative. We knew one person in Wengen who was asymptomatic with a variant. All in our ski group/bubble had testing.

Resort numbers were down but still seemed to be quite busy in Feb half term.

But so worth it.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Tue 6-04-21 10:21; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Well done.

But I can't see anyone going on a week's (or even a fortnight's) holiday when it costs £600 each and 11 days of isolation on top of travel/accommodation/etc. There will need to be a better solution.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@j b, But I can't see anyone going on a week's .....

I agree. I fear the Amber country list will remain fairly lengthy for a long time.
I'm not sure that there will be any easy or quick way out of this or the old normal returning. Vaccination will help, but really only prevents large numbers requiring hospitalisation, and the key will still be open air, distancing and no huge crowds. The very opposite of large numbers going on holiday and enjoying crowded venues, as was the norm pre March 2020.
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As if on cue

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56647119

Article describing how much of a blocker it is.

We have flights booked to go to the Alps mid August
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@NickyJ, Thanks for that new link. I'm amazed by the travel industry people saying they are disappointed.
What else do they really think?? It doesn't take much effort to sit in a darkened room and work out what is the likely reality if infection rates still need to be managed and kept down.
Polio took 30 years to eradicate after vaccination started, the last case was 1984.
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@j b, plus the consequences of testing positive 48 hours before return to the UK would be more than tad inconvenient and expensive.
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well, EJ would always make such comments. They are only interested in their balance sheets, not the health of their passengers and crew.

Realistically, international travel is going to be difficult for most of this year, if not longer. The situation is extremely fluid in most Countries, and beyond the Control of our Government. All they can do is try to limit re-importation of the virus.

We know the traffic light system will be used. We also know that countries can/will be moved into different groups at very short notice. (I would prefer it to be hours, not days to avoid the sudden panic returns to avoid quarantine we saw last year. This led to a lot of local spikes as they brought it back with them)

Most Countries will insist in tests/quarantine prior to travel. What is the objection to our Govt insisting on the same on return?
If it adds cost to the holiday, then so be it. I don't see why those sensible enough not to try to travel should subsidise the tests of those that want to.

The Government advice is STILL not to book International travel. Anybody who does has to accept the situation and the possible consequences.

@NickyJ, Mid August would still be very optimistic. When did you book the flights?
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@snowhound, Yes. I was being positive and assuming negative testing when it is just about almost manageable. But still costly to/from even a Green country. Positive tests would really upset the apple cart. Then the accompanying press etc - like Norovirus outbreaks. But on the positive, in the long term perhaps it will be able to be treated like flu and not attract any headlines.

And it is not being helped by the Government/Labour/LD current "heads in the sand" stance on Covid Status Certificates. The administration needs to get on with them if we are to have any chance of going anywhere.

I've just reacquainted myself with my Naval Pay and Identity Book, WHO International Health Regulations certificate for Yellow fever and a Travel Vaccines Record Card and they cover all sorts - Cholera, TABT, Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, GG booster, Influenza and Pneumonia. Plus a whole load I haven't had - Hep B, Rabies, Japanese Encepalitis, Diptheria etc.
So CSCs can hardly be "unBritish"!!


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Tue 6-04-21 11:21; edited 1 time in total
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EJ have cancelled a lot of their Saturday flights to Europe, expecting their inconvenienced customers to adjust their travel plans accordingly. Taking the proverbial.

I don't believe they have regular flights between the UK regional airports (of they type Flybe used to provide). Maybe they should consider adding a few to help UK customers travel around the UK this year?
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It is optimistic but also timed so that if we get an unexpected 2 week quarantine on return the kids going back to school aren’t impacted.

Booked when roadmap revealed, before France started going up. We know we are taking a chance, EasyJet flights are flexible without fees until 14 days before and accommodation booked via Airbnb can be cancelled upto 4th August. Owner knows our situation but still happy to accept booking.
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@colinstone, I'm surprised that there has not been some sort of electronic version, linked to passport, of the certificates for all those other nasty viruses you mentioned. It would make immigration in a lot of Countries much easier.

Nobody seems to have any problem conforming to all the rules/regulations for the various Countries that have them. Why the objection with a Covid Certificate Puzzled

Maybe the current situation might lead to some sort of international system to avoid carrying a lot of paperwork.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I have some sympathy for EasyJet - partly because they did recognise their obligation to refund cancelled flights last year. They know they will have a big challenge getting their airline business up and running again from its current mothballed state, and they desperately need to see some government approaches that might give them something to aim for.
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On the plus side, at least we won't (currently) need to test or quarantine to visit Scotland or Wales. Very Happy Very Happy
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@colinstone, bloody hell, i feel quite content with our decision to tell family they won’t see us before 2022.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We really have to get to Germany in early May, it`s obviously not going to be an easy exercise!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I must get back to uk soon when it's less of an expensive pita Crying or Very sad I haven't seen my daughter for 18 months and on a very brief visit 6 months ago managed just 2 hours with my very elderly parents Crying or Very sad
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@colinstone, friends went back to the UK around 5 weeks ago and a similar story, except none of their kits turned up, loads of phone calls and emails ensued chasing their test kits, said friends took to bad mouthing the chaotic shambles on social media etc it was only a couple of weeks later that he rather sheepishly admitted to us that his credit card payment had not gone through even though he was emailed acknowledgement at the time of placing his order on-line he never thought to check that and we all had to endure pages of his WhatsApp rants Laughing

@Claude B, and yes we need to get back, me for a jab at some point and the OH for her second, so hoping in the next couple of weeks after our CDS interview this Friday and then enrol at CPAM week after.

So not only do we have all the above process/costs to look forward to arranging, we have the dogs as well that I brought out before Dec 31st on their UK passports, hence I might investigate French residency for them Puzzled

Then the plan is to only spend three weeks or so back in the UK as we'll have a puppy waiting for us at nigh on ten weeks old!
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Claude B, There was a report on the news yesterday about the number of EU "tourists" arriving in the UK every day. It seems that, even though UK Nationals aren't allowed to travel, the authorities can't stop them coming here as long as they have the correct documentation, and an address in the UK to go to self quarantine.

Don't know what checks were being carried out about pre purchase of test kits, or even if they are actually done and sent off.

Maybe you should just try coming home as a "tourist".
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@brianatab, sorry are you saying that an EU tourist does not have to buy the test kits and go through all that associated palava?

Does French residency mean that I can be a EU tourist Very Happy

Edit to the above:

Just checked and still the same
https://uk.ambafrance.org/COVID-19-rules-for-travel-to-France-and-the-UK#t1-Travelling-from-France-to-the-UK
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brianatab wrote:
@colinstone, I'm surprised that there has not been some sort of electronic version, linked to passport, of the certificates for all those other nasty viruses you mentioned. It would make immigration in a lot of Countries much easier. Nobody seems to have any problem conforming to all the rules/regulations for the various Countries that have them. Why the objection with a Covid Certificate. Maybe the current situation might lead to some sort of international system to avoid carrying a lot of paperwork.

If you look on the Vaccination Passport Topic in Après you'll find that this mentions some of the solutions currently under development, particularly the IATA TravelPass for international flights, with an app that's due for release by the end of this month. There's an app and a supporting/backup paper process (just like the boarding pass arrangement). The TravelPass scheme doesn't make using the App mandatory, but you'll find it a lot faster and easier than the paper system that will run in parallel. The TravelPass will be integrated fully with the existing systems and immigration checks used at check in, is updated with all the data on each country rules and regulations, can handle complex transits, and has lists of authorised test/vaccination services in each country.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Tue 6-04-21 15:04; edited 1 time in total
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@Weathercam, The report I read didn't mention testing. It was making the point about foreigners being allowed to do stuff we weren't. Frustrating for the staff dealing with them.
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@Weathercam,
This might be of interest - https://www.covidliste.com
Register for spare vaccine doses in France.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Tue 6-04-21 16:45; edited 1 time in total
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brianatab wrote:
@Weathercam, The report I read didn't mention testing. It was making the point about foreigners being allowed to do stuff we weren't. Frustrating for the staff dealing with them.


The report was based on grumpy border force workers talking about “tourist visas”. Only there’s no such thing - the same standard visa is used for short work visits eg meetings), educational/research visits, funerals, caring for sick relatives and medical treatment. All of which would allow UK residents to travel abroad - as well as the “Stanley Johnson Clause” where you can travel to your second home to do it up for rental.
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brianatab wrote:
@WeathercamIt was making the point about foreigners being allowed to do stuff we weren't

What was the point of Brexit if the Daily Express can still write stories about nasty foreigners?? Very Happy
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andy from embsay wrote:
brianatab wrote:
@Weathercam, The report I read didn't mention testing. It was making the point about foreigners being allowed to do stuff we weren't. Frustrating for the staff dealing with them.


The report was based on grumpy border force workers talking about “tourist visas”. Only there’s no such thing - the same standard visa is used for short work visits eg meetings), educational/research visits, funerals, caring for sick relatives and medical treatment. All of which would allow UK residents to travel abroad - as well as the “Stanley Johnson Clause” where you can travel to your second home to do it up for rental.


The story was about how in lockdown UK citizens are unable to go and see family and friends but international visitors are still arriving as we have no political will to lock the borders down. It is the same here in Belgium where Brad Pitt recently swanned into town on a private jet, wandered around a bit and left.
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j b wrote:
Well done.

But I can't see anyone going on a week's (or even a fortnight's) holiday when it costs £600 each and 11 days of isolation on top of travel/accommodation/etc. There will need to be a better solution.


After what will be almost 2 years without skiing I would definitely consider paying a supplement of 600 quid for a 2 or 3 week ski trip to France. And 11 days isolation after 2 weeks skiing wouldn't bother me.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
It's becoming clear that the airline business is lobbying for vaccination certification to supersede testing. They seem to think that the market won't recover until tests become redundant, or rather, the cost and effort of getting tests is not worth it for the marginal extra safety they provide over vaccination (I'm not saying this is so, but it's their proposition).

If this and related lobbying succeeds, then I think that the upside will be to open-up travel by next season, between reasonably safe countries, where vaccination reached the herd immunity %, and vaccination alone will be deemed enough. With testing kept in reserve as a potential countermeasure to new outbreaks.
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Don't think testing will ever be redundant due to variants appearing. Despite scientists saying last year that mutations are generally less virulent, C19 seems to be the opposite - more contagious and now reports of a Brazil variant twice as deadly.

It is all a bit of a shambles - https://inews.co.uk/news/travel-quarantine-laws-uk-government-covid-restrictions-since-started-947868

"Ms Moreton added: “The majority of travellers do not quarantine in a hotel and there is limited evidence that anyone checks to ensure that those directed to isolate at home do so. All the way through there’s been questions about who is checking people at home. Now PHE’s role appear to have gone those questions become even more relevant.”

Wondered why the isolating check calls ceased 28 March??
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You know it makes sense.
Contagious does not mean it is more deadly, just easier to transmit.
The key is whether vaccines still work against them. Given they all work against this spike protein, a properly worrisome variant would need to change its protein shape in such a way that antibodies no longer attach AND it can still chemically unlock its way into human cells. I suppose the question is how likely this is...
Back to the original theme, testing overseas before returning to the UK is the block for me. I can’t take the risk of any of the family testing positive and having the self isolate in a foreign country for a fortnight. The probability of having to do it might be low, but the consequences are enormous in terms of cost and inconvenience. I wonder how many people champing at the bit for this summer realise this. In this sense, as a business concern, the head of Easyjet is right to target testing as the issue holding back mass holidays.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@snowhound, Contagious does not mean it is more deadly, just easier to transmit......

I know ..."Despite scientists saying last year that mutations are generally less virulent, C19 seems to be the opposite - more contagious and now reports of a Brazil variant twice as deadly.
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Let’s wait and get the data...three months ago they were saying the Kent variant was 30% more deadly but then Withdrew that claim last week.
As usual, the original hypothetical claim got far more coverage than its retraction.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Our shaggy dog story is just beginning so maybe more updates to come....... UK allow entry on an antigen test so hoped that would be ok ......apparently not. As we have to drive across France to get to eurotunnel from Switzerland, which is where we are now, we need a PCR test to get back into France (shame as antigen tests are 100CHF cheaper but hey ho).

Booked Eurotunnel and then went to book day 2 and day 8 tests ......tried a couple of different companies before I got one that had actually thought the process through. The first 2 I tried very happily told me that as soon as I confirmed my order my tests would be dispatched the next day by courier! Really?? I'm not sure who they think they are going to deliver the tests too - the fact that I have to order the tests before I return to the UK in order to enter the UK and had already provided them my return home date surely should tell them that I'm not at home?

Anyway tests ordered with someone else who apparently will dispatch so that they arrived ready for my day 2 quarantine test.......we shall see.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
KathE wrote:
Our shaggy dog story is just beginning so maybe more updates to come....... UK allow entry on an antigen test so hoped that would be ok ......apparently not. As we have to drive across France to get to eurotunnel from Switzerland, which is where we are now, we need a PCR test to get back into France (shame as antigen tests are 100CHF cheaper but hey ho).

Booked Eurotunnel and then went to book day 2 and day 8 tests ......tried a couple of different companies before I got one that had actually thought the process through. The first 2 I tried very happily told me that as soon as I confirmed my order my tests would be dispatched the next day by courier! Really?? I'm not sure who they think they are going to deliver the tests too - the fact that I have to order the tests before I return to the UK in order to enter the UK and had already provided them my return home date surely should tell them that I'm not at home?

Anyway tests ordered with someone else who apparently will dispatch so that they arrived ready for my day 2 quarantine test.......we shall see.


The are small and go through the letter box.
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snowhound wrote:
..three months ago they were saying the Kent variant was 30% more deadly but then Withdrew that claim last week.
I missed that news, where was it reported?
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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/30/kent-covid-variant-no-deadly-original-strain-study-suggests/
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@snowhound, thanks.
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Some evidence it increases hospitalisation risk though.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
snowhound wrote:
Some evidence it increases hospitalisation risk though.
I couldn't see all of the Telegraph article, but I think this is the paper from PHE authors that it was based on:

Assessment of mortality and hospital admissions associated with confirmed infection with SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern VOC-202012/01 (B.1.1.7) a matched cohort and time-to-event analysis
Quote:
Results: Of 63,609 genomically sequenced COVID-19 cases tested in England between October and December 2020 6,038 were variant cases. In the matched cohort analysis 2,821 variant cases were matched to 2,821 to wild-type cases. In the time to event analysis we observed a 34% increased risk in hospitalisation associated with the variant compared to wild-type cases, however, no significant difference in the risk of mortality was observed.

Conclusion: We found evidence of increased risk of hospitalisation after adjusting for key confounders, suggesting increased infection severity associated with this variant. Follow-up studies are needed to assess potential longer-term differences in the clinical outcomes of people infected with the VOC-202012/01 variant.
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@KathE, be interesting to hear how things develop.

I've just started looking at some of the suppliers and what's involved, and I'm now getting that feeling of dread about it all.

And how the hell are we going to exercise the dogs once back in the UK and in quarantine?

I'm tempted to cough up the additional dosh for a day 5 early release and drive (which you are allowed to do) back up to where I had my test before coming out to France.

At least we only have to pay for an Antigen test here in France which is relatively easy from the pharmacy down the road.
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Quote:

And how the hell are we going to exercise the dogs once back in the UK and in quarantine?

That is what worries me most, even if we could sort it with work. Two GSDs are not going to take no for an answer. I know in theory, you are allowed to use dog walking services for it, but not sure ours would be convinced.
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