UK health chief sees ‘unfair’ pricing for COVID travel tests

US & World

National Health Service workers answer a question during a pop-up Covid vaccination centre, set up at Heaven night club in London, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. London’s Heaven club has become the UK’s first nightclub to be turned into a pop-up Coronavirus vaccination centre, as authorities try to attract younger people to get vaccinated. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s competition watchdog said Sunday it will look into the cost of COVID-19 testing for travelers after Health Secretary Sajid Javid complained that high prices for the government-mandated tests were preventing some people from going on vacation.

PCR tests required for most travelers average about 75 pounds ($104) each, or 300 pounds for a family of four, but many firms charge significantly more. Prices quoted by providers listed on the government website range from 17 pounds ($24) to 250 pounds ($347).

Javid said he asked the Competition and Markets Authority to crackdown on “unfair market practices” by test providers.

“People should be able to go on holiday, whether it’s to see family or just to relax, without fearing excessive fees for PCR tests,’’ he said on Twitter.

The watchdog has the authority to intervene directly when it uncovers unfair practices but it can also provide advice directly to ministers so they can take swifter action.

“We are aware of concerns about the evolving markets for COVID-19 tests for international travelers,” the agency said. “We look forward to providing the Secretary of State with advice on how best to ensure that travelers have access to tests that are affordable and reliable.”

Health officials, meanwhile, were giving Pfizer coronavirus shots Sunday at a pop-up vaccination center that was set up for the first time in a nightclub. The center at the Heaven club in London is part of an effort aimed at encouraging young people to get vaccinated.

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Follow all AP stories on the global pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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