Heathrow may become first UK airport to offer medical COVID-19 testing

(Image: Collinson)

The UK company, Collinson, together with Swissport, have announced they are working with Heathrow Airport to offer a pilot scheme of their COVID-19 testing procedure. It would be the first of its kind in the UK; could mean passengers can be checked for COVID-19 upon landing at Heathrow and know within hours if they have tested positive for the virus. All three organisations said they are hoping the ‘Test-on-Arrival’ procedure could provide a solution for those travelling from places not included on last week’s list of countries exempt from quarantine, if the Government also adds people testing negative during the process to its list of exemptions.

The two companies said that if embraced by the Government, which has adopted a ‘traffic light’ scheme, the tests could help the travel sector recovery by enabling even more people to travel from ‘red’ countries where quarantine is still required, while maintaining public confidence around preventing the spread of the virus.

Initially, the new testing procedure would be available as a private service to anyone on a flight arriving in Heathrow Terminal 2. Passengers would need to set up an account and book their test online, before beginning their journey to the UK. The tests would be carried out by Collinson nurses in a Swissport facility on arrival at the airport. During the appointment, a swab will be taken for testing, which is then sent to a biotech lab near Heathrow, using the same transportation protocols the UK’s National Health Service uses for home swab tests.

Collinson and Swissport said they are still in the process of working through funding methods and are currently talking to airlines and airports around potential funding models. They said that currently, the test is likely to cost between £100 – £170 but noted that the figure would reduce as the number of passengers increase. They are also considering the appropriate pricing for groups travelling together.