Ministers under renewed pressure to swap rip-off PCR tests with 'affordable' lateral flows

MINISTERS are under renewed pressure to scrap expensive PCR tests in favour of cheaper lateral flows so cash-strapped Brits get to go away.

MPs and travel bosses are making a last-gasp push to rescue the summer holiday season so hard-hit firms can start clawing back pandemic losses.

Returning holidaymakers are required to pay as much as £150 for lab-tested PCR swabs on day two of their arrival back in the UK.

Alarming photos of crammed drop-off stations overflowing fuelled fears the system was under strain and "insecure".

The expensive system was called into further question when it was revealed hardly any PCRs were being checked for dangerous variants.

Tory MP Huw Merriman, chair of the powerful Commons transport committee, today wrote to Health Sec Sajid Javid demanding a review.

He said that if the Government is not bothering to screen PCR tests for variants "it must give serious consideration to more affordable options, including the use of lateral flow tests".

Mr Merriman branded PCR tests "an unnecessary barrier to affordable travel".

Last week Mr Javid himself wrote to the Competition and Markets Authority expressing concerns about the price of PCRs.

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Heathrow bosses also ratcheted up pressure on ministers to ditch PCRs in an intervention this morning.

Britain's busiest airport recorded its highest monthly passenger total of the pandemic after 1.5million people travelled through in July as isolation restrictions were eased.

But it is still more than 80 per cent below 2019 pre-Covid levels, prompting travel chiefs to agitate for cheaper travel.

Heathrow chief operating officer Emma Gilthorpe said: "Finally, some blue skies are on the horizon as travel and trade routes slowly reopen. The job, though, is far from complete.

"Government must now capitalise on the vaccine dividend and seize the opportunity to replace expensive PCR tests with more affordable lateral flow tests.

"This will ensure travel remains attainable for hard-working Brits desperate for well-earned getaways and keen to reunite with loved ones before the summer travel window closes."

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