UK travel news live: Latest updates as new Covid test boosts holiday hopes


A new Covid testing method which takes just 10 minutes could speed up testing for travel, say developers from the University of Birmingham.

The test, known as the Exponential Amplification Reaction (EXPAR) method, was found to be just as sensitive as PCR or LAMP testing, currently used in hospital settings – with results appearing within 10 minutes of a sample being given.

The test “can be deployed at entertainment venues, airport arrival terminals, and in remote settings where clinical testing laboratories are not available,” states the University’s website, adding that developers are now seeking commercial partners for rapid licensing, to get the new style of test rolled out.

“The testing used swabs containing a typical range of viral loads seen during the pandemic, and had a six-minute cut-off time,” explained Professor Andrew Beggs, whose team worked on the new test.

“The analysis showed RTF-EXPAR’s sensitivity is equivalent to quantitative PCR testing, with a positive predictive value of 89 per cent, and a negative predictive value of 93 per cent. We expect to publish the full results of this testing in the near future.”

In other news, US travellers will have to wear masks on flights until at least January 2022, as the US’s Transportation Security Administration extends the ‘mask mandate’ previously set until September 2021.

Follow all the latest travel news below:

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The Independent’s travel team to host live lunchtime virtual event

Join The Independent’s travel team for a live lunchtime event, where they’ll be answering your burning holiday questions ahead of the government’s next update to the traffic light lists.

It is understood that the next update to the traffic light system for travel will be announced by the government on 26 August.

To help understand what might change, on Wednesday 25 August, travel correspondent Simon Calder and travel editor Helen Coffey will be on hand for half an hour from 1pm to whip through as many reader queries as possible.

Click below for more information:

Helen Coffey19 August 2021 14:39

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PCR testing drop-off chaos continues

Consumer journalist Harry Wallop shared a picture of a drop box, operated by private testing firm Randox, completely full.

He tweeted: “I paid @RandoxHealth/@RandoxOfficial £48 for compulsory day 2 PCR test, returning from Spain (despite being double jabbed, but we won’t go into that). But the drop box is full.

“The test has to be dropped by a certain time or it is invalid. But Randox aren’t answering phone.”

He also videoed a queue of people all waiting to drop off PCR tests. “Centre manager describes the failure of Randox to pick up the tests as a ‘serious clinical incident’,” he added.

Helen Coffey19 August 2021 13:53

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Simon Calder to answer your travel questions live at 4pm

It’s nearly that time again: one week to go until the next round of travel traffic light roulette, when we see which lucky destinations the Department for Transport has deigned to upgrade to the green and amber lists (and which less fortunate locales will be plunged into red).

So, is it safe to book a holiday yet? Join Simon Calder at 4pm today, when he’ll be on hand to answer your travel questions about all the latest rules and restrictions.

Click below and register to submit your question in the Comments section. Then join Simon live from 4-5pm as he tackles as many queries as he can within an hour.

Helen Coffey19 August 2021 12:01

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Woman flies to Tonga for weekend, only to be stuck there 18 months later

A British woman who flew to Tonga for the weekend ended up getting stuck on the Polynesian archipelago for 18 months.

Zoe Stephens, 27, was living in China when she decided to go travelling around Asia, ending up in Fiji.

From there, she flew to Tonga, made up of more than 170 islands, in March 2020.

She meant to stay for the weekend, but the South Pacific nation swiftly went into a strict lockdown.

Helen Coffey19 August 2021 11:57

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New 10-minute Covid test boosts holiday hopes

A new 10-minute Covid test could speed up the pre-travel testing process, say developers from the University of Birmingham.

The new style of testing – known as the Exponential Amplification Reaction (EXPAR) method – was found to be just as sensitive as PCR or LAMP testing, currently used in hospitals, but results show up in under 10 minutes.

The test could be deployed at “entertainment venues, airport arrival terminals, and in remote settings where clinical testing laboratories are not available,” states the University’s website, adding that developers are now seeking commercial partners for rapid licensing, to get the new style of test rolled out.

Lucy Thackray19 August 2021 10:50

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Sharp rise for flight prices in 2022

Data analysis from travel search engine Kayak has revealed that the price for international flights for Easter 2022 is approximately 20 per cent higher than in 2019.

Average international flight prices are around £441 for the Easter holidays next year, compared to around £365 in 2019.

Domestic flight prices are also up around 31 per cent, with average flight prices £150 compared to £115 in 2019.

While prices are up, overall flight searches for domestic and international travel are still down about 77 per cent when compared to pre-Covid 2019.

Helen Coffey19 August 2021 10:22

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Eurostar adds more high-speed services to Europe

Eurostar is adding more trains between the UK and the Continent in response to growing demand following the removal of quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers from France to the UK and the easing of restrictions for travel to Belgium and the Netherlands.

During August, Eurostar has seen double the amount of bookings, and has added 39 trains for travel between the UK and continental Europe in response.

From 6 September until 1 November, eight daily return services will operate, with five in each direction on the London to Paris route and three in each direction between London and Brussels, with one each way extended to Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Helen Coffey19 August 2021 09:53

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US ‘mask mandate’ on planes extended until January

US airline passengers must wear masks on planes until at least 18 January 2022, after the TSA extended the country’s ‘mask mandate’.

The Transportation Security Administration had originally set an end date of 13 September for the rule, but yesterday briefed airline executives on the longer time frame.

The country-wide, all-airline policy – first implemented in February 2021 – has proved controversial in the US, leading to multiple confrontations between cabin crew and passengers who resist wearing a mask.

On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration reported 3,889 incidents this year, with 74 per cent of those involving customers refusing to wear a mask.

Lucy Thackray19 August 2021 09:35

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s liveblog, where we’ll be posting all the latest travel updates.

Lucy Thackray19 August 2021 09:26



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