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By Sumaiya Malik

Some international airlines require documentation of a negative PCR Covid-19 test showing that the traveler has been swabbed for the test no more than 48 hours before the flight.

Here is the dilemma for Austinites. Most PCR testing locations covered by insurance will provide results from 24 to 48 hours after the swab is taken.

This means that if you want to ensure that the results are ready before the flight, you probably will have to take the test more than 48 hours before. Additionally, a home printout of the emailed results does not show all the details required by the airline. A traveler will have to dash to the test location for a printout with all details.

Many travelers are rethinking plans. Vacationing within the U.S. seems to be the to-go option, but for those who have no choice but to proceed, the race and dash are part and parcel of the game.

Here are some facts to help you through PCR testing.

The FDA approved PCR test, a COVID-19 test, detects genetic material of the virus using a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). According to Mayo Clinic, a fluid sample is collected with a nasal swab or a throat swab, or you may spit into a tube to produce a saliva sample.

Results in Austin usually take 24 to 48 hours. PCR tests are very accurate when properly performed by a health care professional and cannot be substituted for the rapid test in case of international travel.

If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.

The Center for Disease Control recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

Please check your airline requirements at least three days before departure to avoid being sent home from the airport. Be prepared to follow all these requirements even if you have proof of vaccination.

Acceptable test results for Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways must be in the form of written documentation (paper). Picture shows an example of the PCR Test form.

Every lab can have a different form, but the information required on the form will be the same.

The documentation must include:

1. Type of test

2. Entity issuing the result (e.g., laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service)

3. Specimen collection date. A negative test result must show the specimen was collected within the 2 days before the flight.

4. Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)

5. Test Result

6. A stamp of the testing authority.

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