Friday 14 August, 2020

Getting COVID test could be a problem for those coming to St Lucia

As St Lucia reopens its borders to air travel on June 4, 2020, one of the precautionary measures being taken is that all incoming nationals and non-nationals must present a certification of having tested negative for COVID-19.

However, in some source countries, getting a COVID-19 test while asymptomatic could prove difficult or even impossible for some would-be travellers.

During the NTN program COVID-19- The Road to Recovery which aired on NTN, Sunday, May 31, 2020, moderator Lissa Joseph posed the question: "There are countries, the US for example, you can't get testing done if you are asymptomatic, showing no symptoms, getting tests done, that's very, very difficult. How do we now ask of the travellers to provide a certificate when they are unable to get that certificate?"

Chief Environmental Health Officer Parker Ragnanan responded saying: "The onus of getting that certificate is not on the country of Saint Lucia. It's on the person desirous of coming to Saint Lucia... The airlines are aware that this is a requirement before you're allowed to board an aircraft to come to Saint Lucia."

It can be concluded from this response that those who are unable to get the test would not be able to travel to Saint Lucia.

Permanent Secretary in Department of Tourism Donalyn Vittet addressed the issue saying: "Our first line of defence is getting an idea, knowledge, of whether you are coming in positive or negative and in our case we want you to come in negative. So the person just might have to wait a little while longer."

To be clear, asymptomatic testing is available in the United States. However, according to a recent NBC report, people in the US may not be able to get tested, especially if they do not have severe symptoms.

"While testing is available in every state and more labs are beginning to test around the country, demand is so high that tests are largely being reserved for high-risk cases: people with severe symptoms, other risk factors like age and complicating health conditions, and health care workers."

According to the official United Kingdom government website, only those who show symptoms can be tested.

The UK's National Health Service site says explicitly: 

"You can ask for a test:

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms

This service is for people in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales, you can ask for a test for a child who lives with you, whatever their age. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can only get a test for your child if they are aged 5 or over.

If you're asking for a test for someone else, and the person is aged 13 or over, check they're happy for you to ask for a test for them.

Please help the NHS by only asking for tests for people who have coronavirus symptoms now."

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