The world has changed drastically over the last two years, and continues to do so as we navigate the pandemic and all it means for our lives. All industries have had to be flexible and find new ways of doing things that once seemed simple. For travellers, however, even the things that were already complicated like navigating airports and customs have got more complex as wandering the globe has had to adjust continuously with restrictions and testing requirements changing (sometimes at a moment’s notice).
Yet, as humanity has always done, we adapt and adjust not just to survive but to thrive. Just as masks, sanitizing, social distancing and zoom have become par for the course as we found the new normal at each stage of the pandemic, so too is monitoring for fresh outbreaks and risks. This post aims to help travellers to prepare themselves for what to expect, and bring confidence in the ease and convenience of getting tested in South Africa.
Do I need to be tested?
The new normal for traveling internationally is a negative Covid test result on departure and arrival in most countries (even for vaccinated travellers). Since airlines confirm testing paperwork before passengers are allowed to board, travellers should be prepared to produce results at check-in and/or during boarding. Some countries do not require a PCR result for internal flights (advised to check this closer to the time of travel, as regulations change often).
Passengers without proof of testing (or with invalid documentation) will be denied boarding by the airline. Travellers will then need to arrange proper testing so they can rebook flights.
If your test is positive, you will also not be allowed to board the plane or will be denied access to your destination (or possibly be required to quarantine at your expense).
Considering these possible complications, Covid-19 insurance cover is now offered by most insurance companies and even airlines as part of the ticket.
So what kind of test must I get?
There are two tests that are generally accepted. PCR testing (Molecular testing), is considered the gold standard of Covid-19 testing as it is very reliable and valid. The downside of the PCR is that it requires between 24-48 hours to receive the results and is more pricey (sometimes speed of results can be expedited at a higher cost).
The Rapid Test (tests for Antigens) provides results almost immediately and is cheaper. This test only tests for current viral antigens and therefore can be less reliable if done too early in the infection.
Both require a nasal or throat swab and can be done at the same testing sites. However, many destinations require a PCR test result, so it is important to check before getting a Rapid Test if it will be accepted.
PCR tests are always accepted and therefore are a safe option if in doubt.
Testing brings peace of mind
The added complexity of these testing protocols comes with benefits and challenges. Visitors to our beautiful country can rest assured that their safety remains our highest priority.
The COVID-19 protocols implemented, including rigorous testing, means we can ensure the safety and ease of mind of our guests once they reach their travel destination.
Testing adds complexity
The challenge is that travellers need to incorporate testing in their travel itinerary and costing (especially for multi-destination travel that may require several tests).
Since PCR tests have an average of 24-48 hour turnaround, to meet the COVID-19 test travel time requirements, it is best to ensure that the date and time of the test and receipt of test results is within 72 hours of your departure date and time.
There are also some destinations that require a negative test within 48 hours, therefore it is recommended to check for any updates for regulations in the destination country closer to the time of travel with your travel consultant.
While this may all sound like a cumbersome extra for the carefree traveller looking to escape to adventure and leisure, the travel industry has risen to the occasion. Tests are a foreseen requirement, and so it is fairly easy to plan for it and ensure a seamless experience. Sites and mobile testing services are commonplace now, especially in South Africa’s cities. Finding a convenient testing site has never been easier. From airports, to conveniently located testing stations, to mobile testing services, getting a Covid test is just a query away for our guests. This means that you can enjoy a hassle-free and safe holiday, knowing that we can help you get what you need when you need it for travelling. Most hotel concierges are able to suggest conveniently located walk-in testing sites close-by.
Springbok Atlas consultants are always keen and available to assist our travellers to find the best option for their travel requirements and help them streamline their experience from beginning to end. We have a great mobile pathology company contracted to us on speed-dial, ready to answer our guests’ testing needs as needed. Please let us help you navigate these new times so it doesn’t interfere with the joy of travel.