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Rapid Covid-19 testing service to open at Gib Airport

Pic: Eyleen Gomez

A Rapid Covid-19 Testing Service will be introduced shortly at the airport offering a 30-minute turnaround on results, the Director of Public Health, Dr Sohail Bhatti, has told the Chronicle.

The Rapid Testing Service is being set up outside Gibraltar International Airport and is aimed at visitors without a GHA card, with Dr Bhatti stressing Gibraltarians should continue to use the Covid-19 drive-through service instead.

The speed of the new service will come at the cost of accuracy and Dr Bhatti is advising any students arriving in Gibraltar not to use this in place of their pre-booked tests.

This new service is aimed at people who are travelling in and out of Gibraltar and need results quickly.

“We have engaged someone to provide testing at the airport and they are in the process of setting it up,” Dr Bhatti said.

“That provides the rapid test. That rapid test is less reliable than the standard test that we use but we are minded that sometimes people want immediate reassurance.”

“They want to go and see their elderly mum and they want to be doubly sure that they are not going to bring anything with them.”

“It’s less reliable than our standard PCR test, but our PCR tests are taking about 24 hours to report back.”

The rapid test is expected to return results after around half an hour, but any positive results will need to be confirmed by a PCR test via the drive-through.

“But one thing the [rapid] test does do is it establishes whether you’ve got roaring infection or not,” Dr Bhatti said.

“It’s less good if you have got asymptomatic carriage. We have worked with these particular providers, that service is due to go live fairly soon.”

“It is not intended for standard Gibraltarians to go get a rapid test.”

“It’s not even meant for students. It’s meant as an extra offer for people who are worried to go.”

“Students will still be invited to go to the drive-through. They can set their own appointment up, but I do know it is possible, if you go there during opening hours, they will log you in the system and get a swab done.”

Dr Bhatti underscored that the airport testing is not to be used as an alternative to a PCR test.

“It was originally set up to allow people who were travelling to show people they had had a test,” he said.

“So the airline could be assured and the other side could be assured.”

“It’s also been intended for those arriving from the UK to be doubly sure that they have not caught the virus and they are not carrying it or going to pass it onto a loved one.”

“Gibraltarians have the Rolls Royce service which is the one they can get immediately and for free and is of a higher accuracy, which is the PCR through the Midtown facility.”

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