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Calls for “affordable and equitable” COVID testing regime for travel abroad

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The Welsh Conservatives have called on Labour’s Health Minister to take action to drive down the price of COVID tests so Welsh families do not pay over the odds to travel abroad.

Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS wrote to Labour’s Baroness Morgan yesterday (Wednesday) to highlight that “travel test packages” of NHS tests that must be booked via Corporate Travel Management (CTM) – the Welsh Government’s chosen PCR test provider – have prices that start from £88.

However, the average price for such tests in England is £75, although some providers are selling tests for as little as £30. In France, PCRs cost holiday makers and others an average of £42, while in Greece it is less than £40.

In his letter, Mr George said: “I have been approached by people across Wales who claim the current cost of PCR testing is acting as a barrier to going overseas, especially for families who want to travel together.

“For a family of four arriving into Wales from a ‘green country’, with two children over the age of 5, they will face an extortionate cost of £352 for tests, making travel only possible for the wealthier in society.”

The letter follows dozens of poor reviews from aggrieved customers of CTM.

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Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS

The Montgomeryshire MS also expressed concern over the Welsh Government’s problematic previous statements where ministers want to discourage people in Wales from travelling abroad, while the “virus is circulating globally”, as the Health Minister cited last week.

However, with most experts determined that Covid-19 is “going to be with us forever”, this suggests the Welsh Government is ruling out overseas travel in those terms indefinitely. Consequently, it is imperative ministers look again at the costs associated with such tests.

Commenting on his letter, Russell George MS, said: “With the vaccination programme breaking the link between the virus and hospitalisations, if people want to go abroad – and they feel it is right for them to do so – then the Welsh Labour Government should ensure an affordable and equitable testing process in in place.

“Covid-19 will be with us for the long-term and we will have to learn to live with the virus both at home and abroad. It’s been a miserable 18 months and for those who want to be reunited with families or travel to ‘green countries’ for some relief and enjoyment, the Welsh Government should make that as easy, not as difficult, as possible.

“Labour’s system means only the wealthiest in Wales can afford to go away this summer, which isn’t right or fair. Ministers must look again at the process.”

(Lead image: Raimond SpekkingCC BY-SA4.0)

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