Mandatory Covid-19 tests for travellers take effect tomorrow

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Anyone wishing to travel to Antigua and Barbuda will have to test negative for Covid-19 using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines under new rules which take effect on July 9.

 “One of the things that we have moved to now is that you would have to have a test done within seven days of your arrival; a PCR test showing negative and that will be for all passengers coming in,” Tourism Minister Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez told Observer.

Just last week, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced plans to implement the previously tipped policy due to threats of litigation from tourists.

He said that at least two individuals threatened to sue the government for holding them against their will after they tested positive, and insisted on heading on the next flight out of Antigua.

In addition, one visitor cited international health regulations which preclude countries from conducting ‘invasive’ tests.

As a result, from Thursday, all visitors are expected to be tested seven days before they set foot on the island, because PCR tests require time before results can be obtained.

Fernandez noted, however, the usual Covid-19 safety protocols will still be in place.

“After you get in you still have the protocols, that is, the temperature checks and so on and if there’s an elevated check then you go to another screening, meaning we will have to do another test here and if you don’t do the other test then you are put on a flight to get back out,” he added.

PCR tests remain the primary Covid-19 diagnostic testing method in the United States. This is the same type of test that was used to detect severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) when it first appeared in 2002.

They are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies.

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