The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on virtually every aspect of human life around the world. Currently, the entire world is still buzzing with lots of questions and uncertainties. Everyone is responding to the pandemic by taking measures to slow down and limit the spread of the virus.
For instance, travel guidelines exist around the world for traveling from country to country and even at the inter-state level. Typical examples are testing and travel requirements such as RT-PCR tests for different states and countries. This guide explains everything you need to know about PCR tests for travel. You will discover what the test means and why you need to have one.
What Is a PCR Test?
PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. It is a special kind of molecular chain reaction test for detecting the genetic material of an organism such as a virus. Thus, a COVID-19 PCR test detects the genetic material of the virus that causes COVID-19, which in this case is the SARS-CoV-2 genetic material.
Why Do You Need One?
Even amidst the pandemic, there are still chances for families to reconnect through vacations and opportunities for businesses to thrive. Traveling is a part of life for both families and businesses across the globe. But we’re still in a pandemic, so traveling comes with certain levels of restrictions and requirements for different states and countries.
But one thing is common, some countries, states, and certain airlines require evidence of a negative COVID-19 infection. So it is essential to be prepared and have all the necessary information and requirements for your destination state or country before you travel.
Currently, molecular testing is the gold standard and the only reliable reference for identifying infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The type of test required by most government agencies both locally and internationally is the PCR test.
What Do COVID-19 PCR Tests Results Mean?
Suppose your test result comes out positive. This means that the test detected the presence of the virus causing COVID-19 in your system. Thus, the test suggests that you’re already infected with COVID-19.
But, if your test result comes out negative, the test result means the presence of the virus causing COVID-19 was not detected in your system at the time of the test. This suggests that you’re currently not infected with the virus.
How Is a PCR Test Different from The Rapid Antigen Test?
Two major types of tests are normally used to diagnose infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 – PCR tests and antigen tests. The antigen test is also referred to as a rapid antigen test. These tests detect different parts of the virus, which influences the speed of detection and the degree of accuracy of the test result.
For instance, the antigen test simply detects a protein fragment that is specific to the virus, while the PCR tests detect the genetic material (RNA) that is specific to the virus.
Because of the differences in the testing targets, an antigen test result can be reported within 30 minutes. While a PCR test result will take longer, it is still possible to get the result the same day or even within an hour the test was conducted.
However, a PCR test result is more accurate and more reliable. It is currently the type of test that is recommended by states, countries, or airlines that require proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.
Antigen tests are only accurate when a person already has much of the virus in their body system and is already showing symptoms. So an antigen test can miss early cases of COVID-19 and are thus less accurate than a PCR test.
What to Know about COVID-19 Testing for Travelers
While the testing conditions and requirements vary from state to state and from country to country, some states require you to present negative proof of the COVID-19 test. Similarly, some airlines will also require their passengers to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result before allowing them to get on board.
Because travel restrictions and requirements differ from one country to another, it is important that travelers know which countries require a PCR test, the required test, and countries that do not require a PCR test before traveling locally or internationally. More importantly, these guidelines and traveling requirements are updated from time to time.
At Rapid Care Testing, our test performance follows the highest standards using accurate methods from qualified professionals. We make traveling easy for you whether you’re preparing for work or vacation.
We provide accurate PCR testing for travel to meet the necessary requirements for flights, public transportation, and local and international destinations. Results are ready in as little as an hour within our online portal with a unique QR code that is accepted for travel to most countries.