One of Scotland’s leading public health experts backed the Scottish Government’s decision to keep PCR testing for international travelers.
The UK government has announced that it will allow vaccinated travelers to replace the PCR test currently required on the second day of their return to England with a cheaper lateral flow test starting next month. You also no longer need to take a pre-departure test before returning.
But those arriving north of the border must take the pre-exit test – even from destinations outside the Red List – before returning, even if they are fully vaccinated, and the test on the second day must be a PCR.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday, Professor Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said she fully supported the Scottish Government’s decision to maintain the testing regime.
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She said, “Letting go of PCR tests means that we would let go of one of the main ways to identify new variants and even be able to know if they are coming in, if they are sitting. And second, to be able to catch positive cases that we’ve tried to control and keep the numbers as low as possible and take the pressure off the NHS. “
Prof. Sridhar also said the government needs to make PCR testing more affordable and accessible for travelers to and from Scotland.
She said, “It is important to keep the tests up because I looked at some numbers yesterday and the people arriving in the UK – and these are people who are going to have to test negative lateral flow before flying. About 400 people will arrive with a positive test after a full vaccination and about 1,000 people will test positive for Unvaccinated.
“If we didn’t test for these people coming in, they wouldn’t even know they were positive and need to isolate, and neither might we be able to sequence them to know if a new variant is coming in, one of “is the most important things we worry about when we go into winter.”
The Scottish government also confirmed in a statement on Friday that it will end its current traffic light system for international travel. From October 4th, the green and yellow lists will be merged, but the red list will remain.
The current yellow list rules – which allow fully vaccinated individuals to avoid isolation – are the default for countries not on the red list.
Vaccinations that have been administered in 17 countries including Canada, Australia, Israel and New Zealand are now considered eligible under the rules, joining jabs in the UK, EU, US and European Free Trade Association.
Eight countries – including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives – will also be removed from the red list with effect from 4 a.m. on Wednesday.
Even travelers from Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya no longer have to be quarantined in a hotel from this point in time.