How could double testing allow for shortened quarantine times in the UK?

 Author: Dr Mark Ali MBBS BSc FRCS CTh, Medical Director

To reduce the spread of Covid-19, we all need to remain vigilant. To minimise the negative impact which this virus leaves behind, we all must follow both the guidelines set out by the Government, as well as stay aware and alert on a personal level. Since the Government must now attempt to find balance between protecting the health of the nation and the prosperity of the economy, our responses must be swift and should take immediate effect.

Quarantining after travel in the UK, from specific destinations forms part of our government’s measures for tackling Covid-19. This has not just constrained those looking to enjoy a holiday; it has also been problematic to entrepreneurs and businesses alike, through delaying business dealings with international clients or even preventing them altogether. As airlines begin to reopen more air routes, we believe those looking to travel should be able to take the opportunity if it is safe to do so. 

On average, holiday goers travel for nine days, and many take a day or two away from work to ensure that they are prepared for their trip. If you combine the time to pack, the holiday itself and the 14-day self-isolation, your short getaway soon turns into a lengthy commitment lasting around a month. For those who cannot work from home, this is entirely unfeasible. Many business travellers and holiday goers alike cannot afford to allocate 14 days to quarantining. Thankfully, newly implemented guidance from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advises that 14-day isolation upon return from certain countries may not have to be the minimum. What’s more, with this new guidance comes a potential alternative to 14-day quarantining and perhaps more freedom for travellers - double testing.

Find out how you could reduce your time in quarantine with the double testing process. 

How long will I have to quarantine for in the UK?

The standard requirements for quarantining when returning from other high-risk countries is 14 days, and the list of countries included is ever-expanding. Week by week, various countries are both added and removed from the list. While there is ever-changing guidance from the Government, it is important to take ownership of your welfare, as well as your family’s and others surrounding you. 

Are you travelling to a country listed on the travel corridor list and are therefore not required to isolate when you return? By taking a PCR test, you could find out if you are infected and reduce the risk of infecting others, regardless of whether or not there are other precautions in place.

What can I do to reduce quarantine times in the UK?

Shorten the self-isolation period with double testing

If you find yourself having to isolate and the 14-day quarantine UK times won’t fit in with your time off, consider double testing. In mid-August, it was announced that those who have returned from international travel could opt to undergo two Covid-19 tests in order to reduce the amount of time in isolation. If both tests provide a negative result, the self-isolation period could be shortened.

How far apart should you take the two tests?

If you wish to choose the double testing method to reduce your quarantine time in the UK after travel, take a test on the day of your arrival back in the UK and then one on the eighth day following your return.

Will double Covid-19 testing reduce the time I need to quarantine? 

Providing that both tests are negative, you can cease self isolation immediately after receiving the second negative test result on day eight of isolation. 

This is not only useful to workers using their annual leave but employers as well. Having an employee double-tested to reduce the time they need to spend at home could make balancing teams much more manageable and could save the business money on lost resources. Whether an employee gets double tested to avoid the full quarantine period length, or because you want to reduce the risk of infection in the workplace, double testing is considered a worthwhile investment.

Prepare for double testing ahead of your travel

Just like you would book a hotel or a holiday home in advance to ensure that you are never left unprepared, why not equip yourself with some Covid-19 test kits in advance? Private Harley Street Clinic test kits last for six months and are ideal for keeping aside if you are planning on taking a trip abroad over the next few months. All of our tests come with a travel certificate, offering you complete reassurance for those who could query you when you return.

It’s important to note that while an antibody test may offer insight into whether you have had the virus historically, it does not guarantee that you won’t be infected again. That’s why many take precautions by taking Covid-19 related tests regularly, not just to reduce the isolation period, but to keep on top of their own health status and to protect those around them.

Two tests are safer than one

Testing has been a vital component in the UK’s fight against Covid-19, something which the Government has been working on continuously to improve over time. Testing is the only way in which you can be sure of whether or not you have, or have had, Covid-19. With testing, you can determine whether or not you will be required to isolate for longer or if it’s safe for you to return to (the new) normal. 

However, if you only take one test when you arrive back from your travels, you still pose as a risk. That’s because you may have contracted Covid-19 but the virus hasn’t replicated sufficiently enough to be detected with a test. A second test on day eight provides enough time for the virus to be identifiable, meaning that if you test negative, isolation is highly unlikely to be necessary. Therefore you could exit the quarantine period as early as eight days in. 

If you are looking to enjoy the same ease as those who opted for the double testing method, explore our range of Covid-19 test kits which are approved by Public Health England. Alternatively, contact us if you have any further questions.