HealthDay News — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced that predeparture tests for people traveling to the United Kingdom will no longer be required because restrictions meant to contain the international spread of the highly contagious omicron variant are now meaningless.
The change should come as welcome news to people who had refrained from traveling overseas for fear they would get stranded in a foreign country.
Johnson also announced measures to loosen testing rules for the country’s own citizens. Starting Jan. 11, British residents who are asymptomatic but test positive for COVID-19 using a rapid test will not need to confirm that with a follow-up PCR test, the U.K. Health Security Agency said. This will likely reduce self-isolation time.
“While cases of COVID continue to rise, this tried-and-tested approach means that LFDs [lateral flow devices, or rapid tests] can be used confidently to indicate COVID-19 infection without the need for PCR confirmation,” Jenny Harries, the U.K. Health Security Agency chief executive, said in a statement.
John Edmunds, Ph.D., a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told the Associated Press that the move made sense, although daily updates may require more careful interpretation. “When the prevalence is high, and it is incredibly high at the moment, almost everyone who tests positive with a lateral flow test will be a true positive,” Edmunds explained. “There is really no need to confirm this with a PCR, a step that not only wastes time but costs a lot of money and uses up laboratory resources that could be better used elsewhere.”