Covid test kits to surge in price as Omicron rules spark panic

Omicron variant: Expert calls for mask wearing in enclosed spaces

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A number of providers have already started to raise their prices according to Paul Charles, chief executive of The PC Agency, a travel consultancy. Speaking at the Downing Street press conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that “we are not going to stop people travelling”.

However, he said all passengers arriving from abroad will now have to take a PCR test by the end of their second day after reaching the country and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

The new rules will be enforced from Tuesday at 4am for anyone coming to the UK from abroad, and will be reviewed in three week’s time.

Mr Charles told The Telegraph: “You can guarantee test providers will be hiking their prices at any sign of increased demand.

“The test providers are in the private sector and they are basing their prices on demand. If demand goes up they will put their prices up.

“There is no regulation and no major oversight of private test providers. The testing industry is worth well over a billion pounds and has grown up at very short notice.”

Other countries around Europe have tightened up the rules amid the new variant as well.

From December 1, all arrivals in Portugal must show evidence of a negative Covid-19 test, regardless of vaccination status.

For entry to Switzerland, Britons must show a negative PCR test and quarantine for 10 days.

Spain will only be accepting fully vaccinated tourists from next month.

Mr Charles added: “I think the new self-isolation measures will wipe out most inbound business and leisure trips in what is a very critical period running up to Christmas because why would you bother if you need to isolate?

“They will also reduce the number of new overseas trips from the UK during the late December period, which is also a critical period for many travel firms.

“When you introduce quarantine – whether in a hotel or at home – it reduces confidence and puts people off booking.

“These measures will be quite damaging at a time when the industry is just recovering.”

South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola have all been added to the red list, with flights from these countries to the UK banned.

This means that anyone arriving from these countries will have to spend 10 days in a hotel quarantine on their return to the UK, and will face a £10,000 penalty if they flout the rules, Telegraph reports.

Meanwhile, Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, said the Labour Party “desperately” wanted to see the Government “tighten up” travel restrictions after two new cases of the variant were discovered in England.

She said: “The Government is saying everyone has to have a PCR test on day two when they arrive back in the UK, but they’re not suggesting pre-departure tests for people before they board flights.”

She added that despite the Government having been “warned” for months, there was currently no advice for people about travelling back from the airport on public transport and that there were “very few checks on the PCR tests that are done”.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper said the Government should reinstate pre-travel tests “immediately” to help identify and contain the spread of the Omicron variant.

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She said: “Only reintroducing PCR tests after two days home isn’t sufficient as a precautionary approach as it leaves far too many gaps in the system.

“People can still travel on busy planes, wait in busy departure or arrival halls, then travel home on buses, trains or the tube, all without being tested at all.

“But, once again, the Government seems to be leaving major gaps in the travel testing regime.

“They have done this too many times before and they mustn’t make the same mistakes again. They need to learn from what happened with previous waves and get comprehensive testing in place fast.

“Until we know more about omicron and its interaction with our vaccines, the Government needs to take swift and sensible measures to stop it spreading into the UK.”

According to the Government website, the following targeted measures will be introduced this week:

• All international arrivals must take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

• All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

• Face coverings will be made compulsory in shops and on public transport from next week. All hospitality settings will be exempt.

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