Tag: Test

Olympic test event in China called off amid travel concerns

Another test event for the 2022 Beijing Olympics was called off Saturday, when bobsled and skeleton officials canceled plans to have a training week and World Cup race on a newly built track to end this year’s sliding season.

The decision comes just days after luge officials also canceled that sport’s season-ending World Cup and training week on the track built in Yanqing.

The reason, in both cases, was the same: ongoing concerns about international travel during the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China about a year ago.

In a letter sent to national federations Saturday, International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation secretary general Heike Groesswang said several weeks of conversations were held about how to move forward with the training week and World Cup “under the challenging circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic causes to all of us.”

The new schedule calls for a bobsled training week in early October and a skeleton training week later in October. That means many nations will likely have to choose some semblance of their 2021-22 national teams by the end of this season, since most of the world’s tracks won’t be iced and operating before those training weeks in China are held.

“A replacement for the World Cup in March 2021 will be announced next week,” Groesswang said.

USA Bobsled and Skeleton and USA Luge are sitting out the pre-Christmas portions of the World Cup schedules in those sports, as are several other nations, because of concerns about international travel and other pandemic-related issues.

In a women’s World Cup bobsled race in Latvia on Saturday, only six sleds finished the two runs. That was believed to be the smallest World Cup field since women began competing on the circuit.

It’s been tradition for at least the last five Olympic cycles for a World Cup event to be held on that track that will host the games the following winter, and those races have been critical in terms of teams collecting data and formulating an Olympic strategy.

But not having the training weeks and World Cups in China could raise the possibility of some nations, the U.S. included, not competing internationally at all this season.

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‘Test to release’ scheme will cut England travel quarantine to five days

The two-week quarantine period for international arrivals to England is to be cut to as little as five days next month, with travellers allowed to leave self-isolation after a negative Covid-19 test.



a group of people on a sidewalk: Photograph: Yui Mok/PA


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

The government said the new “test to release” regime would be in place from 15 December.

Airlines said it was “light at the end of the tunnel” for the struggling travel industry, but said most travel would only return when a pre-departure testing regime was in place.

Passengers who choose to use the scheme must book a test before travel – and pay for it privately – from a list of government-approved suppliers, which has yet to be published. The cost is likely to be between £65 and £120.

Anyone arriving in England by plane, ferry or train will still need to complete a passenger locator form and self-isolate for five full days before taking a test.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the plan would “ensure that our route out of this pandemic is careful and balanced, allowing us to focus on what we can now do to bolster international travel while keeping the public safe.

“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business. By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”

A travel taskforce, chaired by Shapps, reported to the prime minister earlier this month. Shapps’ view is that a test after five days of self-isolation would give more accurate results and reduce the risk of false negatives, compared with a test on arrival favoured by airlines and airports. The government has pointed to the examples of Germany and Iceland, which amended test-on-arrival regimes in favour of a similar delayed test.

Both British Airways and Virgin described the move as a significant step in the right direction, but said a pre-departure testing regime was needed.

Related: Selling off the china: BA puts bespoke items from first class on sale

Airlines UK said the move should cause a tentative rise in demand. Tim Alderslade, the industry association’s chief executive, said: “That said, a test at day five does not get rid of quarantine and that’s why we look forward to working with government to move towards a pre-departure or domestic testing regime. But there is now light at the end of the tunnel.”

The travel association Abta said it would make travel more attractive and manageable but there was “still more work to be done to support the recovery of the sector, including having a testing scheme in place for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”



a person standing on a sidewalk: Passengers arrive at Heathrow airport in September. Anyone entering the UK will still have to self-isolate for five full days before taking a test.


© Photograph: Yui Mok/PA
Passengers arrive at Heathrow airport in September. Anyone entering the UK will still have to self-isolate for five full days before taking a test.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said momentum was building worldwide for testing to replace quarantine. Its chief

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Get a virus test before you travel, experts say as some US states revert to ‘near-lockdown’ | National News

The coronavirus is taking an increasingly dire toll across the U.S. just as a vaccine appears close at hand. The country is now averaging over 1,300 COVID-19 deaths per day — the highest since the calamitous spring in and around New York City.

With health experts deeply afraid Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings next week will fuel the spread of the virus, many states and cities are imposing near-lockdowns or other restrictions. California ordered a 10 p.m.-to 5-a.m. curfew starting Saturday, covering 94% of the state’s 40 million residents.

Amid the bleak new statistics, Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, setting in motion a process that could make the first, limited shots available as early as next month, with health care workers and other high-risk groups likely to get priority.

But it could take months before the vaccine becomes widely available. Pfizer has said the vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing the disease.



Daily COVID-19 deaths in US reach highest level since May

Other developments today:

As college students prepare to go home for the holidays, some schools are quickly ramping up COVID-19 testing to try to keep infections from spreading further as the coronavirus surges across the U.S.



Heading home for the holiday? Get a virus test, colleges say

This summer’s huge motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D. led to dozens of coronavirus cases in neighboring Minnesota, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds.

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Negative COVID-19 test ‘not a passport’ to travel, officials warn, as demand surges

California residents who think a negative coronavirus test gives them the greenlight to travel this holiday season should think again, officials say.



a group of people with luggage at an airport: A flight crew wearing personal protective equipment walks through Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)


© Provided by The LA Times
A flight crew wearing personal protective equipment walks through Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Public health officials across the state are warning that using testing to justify hitting the road or gathering in other ways doesn’t work.

As California struggles amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, and Thanksgiving and other holidays are right around the corner, demand for testing in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties has skyrocketed. The same situation is playing out nationwide, straining testing sites that are running short of key supplies.

“We have seen the repeated failure of this type of testing strategy across the country, including in Washington, D.C.,” Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health, said at a briefing this week. “A negative test cannot be an excuse to put yourself or others at risk.”

A person who tests negative can still carry the virus if it’s early in their infection, health officials say.

Testing “is an identifier at that moment,” Los Angeles County public health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said Thursday, noting that it isn’t a preventative measure nor a barometer for future illness.

Even before the statewide spike in cases, officials were strongly advising against nonessential travel. Anyone leaving the state or arriving from out of state should quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their test results, Davis said. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to stay home.

San Francisco officials have asked residents not to misuse testing facilities in an effort to travel, adding that the services are intended for essential workers, those who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to the virus.

“If people need tests for any other reason — like travel or visiting — they need to go to their private provider,” the city said in a statement. “City resources cannot support testing for behaviors, such as travel and visits with extended family, that are currently not recommended during this surge.”

San Francisco currently tests about 6,000 people a day, with results available in one to two days, officials said.

Los Angeles officials stopped short of advising residents to avoid testing, but health officials warn that test results are merely a snapshot in time and not intended as a free pass to willfully disobey health orders or recommendations.

“Your test result that you got Saturday morning was from Thursday when you got tested, and it said, ‘On Thursday, you were negative,’ ” said Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s director of public health. “It says nothing about whether you’re still negative on Saturday.

“That’s actually a false sense of security. It’s a false narrative.”

Though testing demand has shot up in recent weeks, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that capacity has not been reached at city sites. Officials anticipated the increased

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Negative COVID test ‘not a passport’ to travel, officials warn

California residents who think a negative coronavirus test gives them the greenlight to travel this holiday season should think again, officials say.

Public health officials across the state are warning that using testing to justify hitting the road or gathering in other ways doesn’t work.

As California struggles amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, and Thanksgiving and other holidays are right around the corner, demand for testing in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties has skyrocketed. The same situation is playing out nationwide, straining testing sites that are running short of key supplies.

“We have seen the repeated failure of this type of testing strategy across the country, including in Washington, D.C.,” Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health, said at a briefing this week. “A negative test cannot be an excuse to put yourself or others at risk.”

A person who tests negative can still carry the virus if it’s early in their infection, health officials say.

Testing “is an identifier at that moment,” Los Angeles County public health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said Thursday, noting that it isn’t a preventative measure nor a barometer for future illness.

Even before the statewide spike in cases, officials were strongly advising against nonessential travel. Anyone leaving the state or arriving from out of state should quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their test results, Davis said. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to stay home.

San Francisco officials have asked residents not to misuse testing facilities in an effort to travel, adding that the services are intended for essential workers, those who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to the virus.

“If people need tests for any other reason — like travel or visiting — they need to go to their private provider,” the city said in a statement. “City resources cannot support testing for behaviors, such as travel and visits with extended family, that are currently not recommended during this surge.”

San Francisco currently tests about 6,000 people a day, with results available in one to two days, officials said.

Los Angeles officials stopped short of advising residents to avoid testing, but health officials warn that test results are merely a snapshot in time and not intended as a free pass to willfully disobey health orders or recommendations.

“Your test result that you got Saturday morning was from Thursday when you got tested, and it said, ‘On Thursday, you were negative,’ ” said Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s director of public health. “It says nothing about whether you’re still negative on Saturday.

“That’s actually a false sense of security. It’s a false narrative.”

Though testing demand has shot up in recent weeks, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that capacity has not been reached at city sites. Officials anticipated the increased interest, expanding hours and adding supplies.

The city is testing an average of 27,000 people a day, with a capacity to test about 34,000 people daily, the mayor’s

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Travelers are using fake COVID-19 test results

As coronavirus cases continue to rise and some countries are requiring negative COVID-19 test results in order to gain entry, travelers are buying counterfeit or fake results.

French police arrested seven people last week at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle International Airport for selling fake results, The Associated Press reported. The suspects charged $180-$360 for falsified certificates and could face up to five years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

People in Brazil have also been accused of falsifying results. Four tourists were arrested last month for using altered testing results when they arrived in the popular beach area Fernando de Noronha, USA Today reported.

They presented three-day-old test results, which were rejected by officials because the island requires negative results no older than 24 hours, according to the publication. The tourists then presented results with a different date and were arrested after a lab confirmed that they had changed the dates on the tests.

A man in England admitted to The Lancashire Telegraph that he doctored his friend’s test results and used it to travel internationally.

Some states have required travelers to present their test results electronically instead of through in-person forms. Hawaii, which requires negative COVID-19 test results for entry since Oct. 15, mandates that visitors register online before travel and upload their results from a lab within 72 hours of traveling.

Spain is the latest country to require negative test results, announcing Wednesday that starting Nov. 23, travelers from “high-risk” countries will need to submit a negative test within 72 hours of travel, The Associated Press reported.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

Summer Lin is a McClatchy Real-Time News Reporter. She graduated from Columbia University School of Journalism and was previously a News and Politics Writer for Bustle News.

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Compromised COVID test ruins woman’s Hawaiian vacation

A Hayward woman, who flew to Hawaii, said her vacation was ruined after she did not receive her Covid-19 test results to avoid quarantine. Walgreens Pharmacy told her that her test sample had been compromised by a homeless man.

Delilah Hamilton is not happy that Walgreens did not notify her that a homeless man had tampered with the sample drop-off box. She found out only after she landed in Hawaii and after she called the pharmacy.

With bags still packed and flight tags untouched, Hamilton returned to her home in the Bay Area on Tuesday after a dream Hawaiian vacation with her friend turned into a nightmare.

“I’m angry,” said Hamilton. “I’m mad. I’m confused for one because this didn’t have to happen.”

Hamilton booked a trip to Kauai, the island with the least number of COVID cases with a stopover in Honolulu.

As mandated by Hawaii, for all travelers within 72 hours of her flight, Hamilton took a COVID test to avoid quarantine.

She chose a trusted testing site listed on Hawaii’s web site, a Walgreens in Hayward.

“You do it through the drive-thru at Walgreens,” said Hamilton. “They give you the swab. you swab it. They tell you pull up. There’s a box you have to put your swab in.”

Results are emailed within 72 hours. As her plane touched down in Honolulu on Monday, there were no results. The lab had no record of her specimen so she called Walgreens.

“The pharmacist said, oh ma’am, I’m sorry,” said Hamilton. “A homeless man broke into our box and all of the swabs in the box, they were damaged or in some way we don’t know if they were stolen but some of the swabs were missing.”

Hamilton was dumbfounded.

“I’m just standing there hysterically crying,” said Hamilton.

She didn’t want to quarantine for 14-days, so Southwest helped book a flight back to Oakland.

A pharmacy staff member at the Hayward location confirmed a homeless man tampered with 14 tests on Friday and said a customer had watched the man open the box.

In an email, Walgreens Corporate said the company is looking into the matter but could not immediately comment.

“Why didn’t anyone contact me?” said Hamilton. “If this happened on Friday, why didn’t someone make a phone call to the people who had the swabs in that box.”

Hamilton said Walgreens has offered her compensation but what she really wants is answers.

“What about those people who are actually sick waiting for those results,” said Hamilton. “This is a serious disease and I believe it wasn’t taken seriously.”

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Tourists are buying fake covid-19 test results on the black market to travel

With global coronavirus cases rising, many countries are now requiring negative coronavirus test results for entry, but getting a test in time can be difficult for travelers.



a close up of a device


© iStock/Washington Post illustration


So it may have been only a matter of time before a black-market option emerged: counterfeit test results. The practice of forging or purchasing fake results has surfaced in destinations around the world, with instances of manipulated negatives in Brazil, France and the United Kingdom.


What to know about getting tested for the coronavirus to travel

Last week, French officials broke up an alleged forgery ring that was selling false test certificates at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport. According to the Associated Press, the group was asking $180 to $360 (150 to 300 euros) for the digital certificates of a negative result.

Police charged the group of seven (six men and one woman) with forgery and fraud after investigating how an Ethiopia-bound passenger acquired a false coronavirus document at the airport in September. The fake certificates were stored on mobile phones and had the name of a medical lab located in Paris, the BBC reported.

Police in Brazil recently arrested four domestic travelers who forged negative coronavirus tests to visit the island of Fernando de Noronha on a private jet, according to the Associated Press. The island, which is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, reopened to tourists on Oct. 10 and requires entrants to present negative coronavirus test results acquired no more than one day in advance.

According to a U.K. newspaper, the practice has also surfaced in England: The Lancashire Telegraph reported speaking with one man who doctored a friend’s negative coronavirus test, printed it out and used it for international travel. The newspaper also spoke to another traveler who was offered a fake document from their travel agent.

As test-result protocols for travel are becoming more high-tech, however, it’s unlikely that many travelers would be able to travel with a manipulated document. The state of Hawaii, for example, requires visitors to preregister in their online testing program, use an approved testing partner, and upload results to a digital portal. Paper copies are not accepted.

A new app called CommonPass launched last month for passengers on United Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways to upload their coronavirus test results directly to their airline for verification when flying through some airports. The health-screening app aims to decrease global reliance on quarantines by centralizing a traveler’s coronavirus status and documents for easy access by airlines and their destinations. The app is on a trial run and is available only to passengers flying to or from New York, London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Read more:

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Is it safer to fly or drive during the pandemic? 5 health experts weigh in.

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UPDATE: Woodstock Recreation Center, Sage YMCA temporarily close after staff members test positive for COVID-19

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The Woodstock Recreation Center temporarily closed its doors Friday until Nov. 13 after three staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the city of Woodstock said in a news release.

“To err on the side of caution, we are implementing a facility closure to ensure the health and safety of all of our members, visitors, residents and staff,” according to the release. “This will also allow time for a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the building to prepare for reopening.”

The rec center is scheduled to reopen Nov. 14.

Dave Zinnen, director of the city’s recreation department, said two additional employees were identified as having close contact with the three employees who tested positive. One of the contact’s tests came back negative, and the other one does not yet have his or her results. 

“We recommended the rest of the staff to go ahead and get tested because we do work in a very confined area,” Zinnen said.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said the city does not think any members of the club or residents met criteria to be considered a close contact.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines close contact as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset – or, for asymptomatic patients, two days before being tested – until the time the patient is isolated.

Going forward, Zinnen said the recreation department likely will put more plexiglass between employees. A piece of plexiglass already is set up between the front counter staff and employees, he said.

A “tremendous amount” of safeguards have been put in place for the public because of COVID-19, Stelford said.

This includes changing the check-in process, in which members hold their card directly up to a scanner, so there’s no physical interaction between employees and members, as well as a lot of cleaning and sanitizing as people are done using the equipment. 

Because some classes are not being conducted now, they are able to put workout equipment in more places, Stelford said. 

Two area restaurants – Miller’s Diner in McHenry and Andy’s Restaurant in Crystal Lake – also have announced temporary closures in recent days after employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Both restaurants had continued to offer indoor dining despite increased restrictions ordered by Gov. JB Pritzker. The intensified restrictions that have hit restaurants and bars have not affected fitness centers such as the Woodstock Recreation Center to the same degree.

Sage YMCA in Crystal Lake will be closed for 10 days after receiving three reports of COVID-19, involving both direct and indirect exposures. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close down the center immediately to undergo deep cleaning,” Man-Yee Lee, spokeswoman for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, said on Saturday. “After swiftly

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Coronavirus explosion overseas will ‘really test’ Australia’s hotel quarantine program, experts warn

The explosion of COVID-19 cases overseas will strain Australia’s hotel quarantine system and increase the chance of “leakage” into the community, leading epidemiologists say.

Victoria isn’t accepting return international travellers, but the number of positive cases in NSW hotel quarantine has doubled in the past two weeks, data has shown.

This follows the Federal Government’s increase of the international arrivals cap from 6,000 to 6,290 people per week.

The rise in COVID-19 cases in quarantine has not been unexpected, with infections surging in the US, Europe as well as Pakistan and India, which are the top two countries of origin for return travellers in Sydney.

NSW has had only one quarantine scare — when two security guards at the Sydney Marriott Hotel tested positive in August.

But epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws said the program was about to be “really tested”.

“There will be the occasional incident as hotels are not purpose built for quarantine,” said Professor McLaws, who is an advisor to the World Health Organization.

“This virus doesn’t understand rules and regulations, it just uses any opportunity, like contaminated surfaces or staff letting their guard down.”

Melbourne’s ‘perfect storm’

Melbourne’s second wave of COVID-19 proved just how much rides on quarantine being watertight, with one infected hotel manager causing mass infections and months of lockdowns.

“It was a perfect storm, what happened in Victoria. That would be hard to replicate in any other state but the possibility is always there,” Professor McLaws said.

The differing levels of virus surveillance in some parts of the world were making it very hard to accurately judge risk right now, she said.

“India cannot keep up and not everyone is getting tested and there is severe under-reporting in Bangladesh.”

Epidemiologist Tony Blakely from the University of Melbourne said hotel quarantine seemed to be working well in NSW but there was now increased pressure on the system.

“Doubling the rate of people infected arriving in quarantine [for example] will double this very rare occurrence to something not quite as rare.”

He admitted leakages were unlikely but said they could occur “from time to time” due to inaccuracies or carelessness.

“For example, the one-in-a-thousand (or more) person who is infected beyond 14 days, but not detected by testing, gets out of quarantine and haplessly passes it on to someone,” Professor Blakely said.

“[Or] the staff member at quarantine who picks it up, tests negative — it happens, about 20 per cent of the time — and takes it home.”

But epidemiologist from the University of Sydney, Fiona Stanaway, said the climbing cases in hotel quarantine shouldn’t cause unnecessary alarm.

“The rates are going gangbusters overseas so yes there will be more people positive but I think it is a risk that can be managed,” she said.

“Rates were really high in the US and Europe in March and April and that was managed here. I don’t think there’s necessarily a cause for concern about this third wave here.

Dr Stanaway said people in quarantine were tested

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