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British Airways trials ‘game-changer’ 25-second coronavirus test

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

British Airways will be the world’s first airline to trial a coronavirus test which produces results within 25 seconds.

The carrier described the test as a “game-changer”.

It will invite flight and cabin crew to take a Pelican Covid-19 antigen test from medical tech company Canary Global.

Results will be compared against their standard test results.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said the airline is “committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again”.

He went on: “We think this new ultra-rapid test is a game-changer so we are delighted to work with the team at Canary to begin initial trials with our flight and cabin crew, before exploring what role it could play as a customer testing option.”

The airline said the test correctly identifies 98% of people who have Covid-19, and 100% of those who do not.

It added that it was “recently approved for use in Europe and UK”, and is being assessed in the US.

Users apply a sample of their saliva to a disposable sensor unit, which is shaken and inserted into a digital reader connected to a Bluetooth-enabled device such as a smartphone.

The test result is made available on an app within 25 seconds.

The ban on international leisure travel for people in England will be lifted on Monday.

Returning travellers must take a coronavirus test in the three days before their departure to the UK, and one or two post-arrival PCR tests, depending on how the country they visited is categorised under the new traffic light system.

There is concern that testing requirements are putting many people off from going on holiday this summer.

Results from PCR tests are not normally delivered until the following day as samples must be analysed by a laboratory.

Raj Reddy, Canary Global’s chief executive, said the Pelican test offers “PCR-like accuracy”.

He added: “We developed the test with the travel industry in mind, where speed, accuracy and ease of use are paramount.

“We are very excited to partner with BA as pioneer and industry leader to trial this test.

“We hope the Pelican test can soon be used as a standard test for travellers and crew around the world.”

The Department for Transport has said it will review its policy on June 28.

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