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COVID tests for international travel reduced to £68 each to ‘remove excessive costs’

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The cost of NHS coronavirus tests for international travel are being reduced from £88 to £68 each from today, the government has announced.

Passengers returning from green list countries, or amber list destinations if they are fully vaccinated, will now pay £20 less per PCR test. The test must be taken on or before day two after the traveller arrives in England.

People who have not had both doses of the coronavirus vaccine and are returning from amber list countries will also see the price of the two tests they need fall from £170 to £136. The tests must be taken on days two and eight of their arrival from abroad.

The price reduction does not affect arrivals from red list countries, or if they purchase a test from a private provider, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

NHS Test and Trace provide COVID tests for international travel, but unlike normal lateral flow tests (LFT) or PCR ones for people with symptoms, they are paid for.

The travel industry, which has been hammered by the pandemic, has long complained that the costs of tests are too high.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced a “rapid internal review” of prices charged by government-approved companies after claims holidaymakers are being exploited over private testing.

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“I’ve ordered my department to urgently review the list of private providers on gov.uk to ensure pricing is clearer and transparent,” he said on Saturday.

“Any provider found to be misleading the public will be kicked off.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid during a visit to a pop-up vaccination site at Little Venice Sports Centre in west London. Picture date: Wednesday July 28, 2021.
Image: Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the move on Saturday

“Too many providers are acting like cowboys and that needs to stop. The public should be allowed to enjoy their summer holidays without having to face excessive costs or anxiety.”

Mr Javid has also commissioned a wider review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to address discrepancies in testing prices.

The competition regulator will soon feed back on whether forcing people to pay for travel tests is in line with competition law.