HomeTravelTravel testing chaos as Covid PCR drop boxes found overflowing and unsecured

Travel testing chaos as Covid PCR drop boxes found overflowing and unsecured

Travellers dropping off their day two PCRs after returning from holiday have been shocked to find public drop boxes overflowing with unsecured Covid-19 tests.

The boxes, operated by private healthcare firm Randox Health, have been spotted piled high with tests at several locations, including Sutton, Bournemouth, Bishops Stortford and Hampstead in London.

Travellers returning from green and amber list countries must all take at least one Covid-19 PCR test within two days of entering the UK.

Randox Health is one of over 400 travel test providers approved by the government. It charges ÂŁ48 per day two PCR test, or ÂŁ96 for a day two and day eight package (necessary for unvaccinated amber list arrivals who are over 18).

Gavin Marshall drove for half an hour to drop off a Randox day two PCR test at a collection point outside Sutton Pharmacy Surrey and Travel Clinic in Sutton, but found the box “over-flowing and insecure”. He called it a “Covid travel rip-off”.

Other Twitter users responded with similar complaints about overflowing drop boxes in Bishops Stortford, Bournemouth and Hampstead in North London.

Paul Charles, founder of travel consultancy The PC Agency said: “A symbol of the absolute mess that PCR testing has become. Personal details and samples left for anyone to take, and proof of private labs that aren’t in any hurry to turn around the results. Let alone send them for genomic sequencing that government isn’t so interested in now.

“What is the point of taking a day 2 PCR test?”

A spokesperson for Randox told The Independent: “Randox is constantly expanding and improving its Covid-19 testing capacity and associated logistics network, which is already the largest in the United Kingdom, to meet the rapidly growing demand resulting from the loosening of travel restrictions.

“Randox continues to increase the number of drop boxes across the United Kingdom, which already totals over 200, and is increasing the frequency of box collections which are already occurring multiple times per day.

“Randox is providing premium testing services in dynamic and rapidly changing circumstances and is committed to continuously improving its logistics network, to ensure that international travellers receive their results in time. All of the sample kits pictured will be processed.

“If a drop box is full, customers should not leave samples on top of or around the drop box. Instead, customers should check the Randox website for details of their next closest drop box location or options for an alternative returns method.”

It comes a day after the UK government’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), announced that it will be looking into fees for Covid-19 travel tests.

PCR tests for days two and eight available from providers listed on the government’s website range from £20 to £399, but these are only a guide, with customers finding prices go up when they click through to book tests.

The CMA is taking action following a letter from the health secretary, Sajid Javid, who wrote of reports of “exploitative behaviour” and “unfair practices”.

The Independent has approached the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

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