Federal government asked to consider scrapping expensive COVID PCR test for travellers


COVID PCR test – The recent reopening of the border between Canada and the United States meant travellers on both sides eagerly crossing the world’s longest undefended border to reunite with friends and family, or enjoying a much needed vacation after 20 months of lockdowns and restrictions as a result of the COVID pandemic.


However, this border reopening means that two major conditions are still in effect: that cross-border travellers still have to be fully vaccinated, and possess a negative PCR COVID test, which has to be taken within 72 hours of their planned departure to their destination in question. This policy was directed at those people who are taking a trip or going to be out of the country for a lengthy period of time, when there would be a possibility of being infected with COVID while they are away.

How much does the COVID PCR test cost?

The problem is that the molecular COVID PCR test is expensive, with prices going as high as $300, and can take as much as 24 hours, or longer, to get the results.

However, there is an alternate route. Experts are asking that the federal government should consider scrapping the costly PCR test for travellers. Instead, they should consider the option of using a rapid antigen test that’s used in the U.S. It costs as little as $20, and results can be had within 15 minutes. 

But this antigen testing alternative does has its drawbacks. They are not as sensitive as the molecular PCR tests, which means that the antigen tests could miss low levels of the virus, which is a quality that is available through the PCR test.

Also, there are a number of experts who urge the Canadian government to rethink their PCR testing policy, especially when it comes to travellers who take short trips to the U.S.

“It doesn’t have the same utility for somebody who’s day-tripping, who’s crossing the border and coming back for travel or for work, because of the time it takes for you to become symptomatic and to test positive for the virus,” said Montreal-based cardiologist Dr. Christopher Labos in an interview with CBC News.

“If you day-trip to the U.S. and come back, getting tested in the U.S. is not going to pick up any infection that you acquired that same day,” added Dr. Labos, who also possesses a degree in epidemiology. “I think it’s an obvious place where that testing strategy isn’t all that helpful.”

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