JEDDAH: With vacation season approaching and Saudi airports once again welcoming passengers, PCR tests have become an essential travel item along with passports and face masks.
More than 100 laboratories across the country are gearing up to accommodate the expected increase in demand for PCR tests as more information on COVID-19 travel measures are announced in the Kingdom and overseas, with many governments now demanding proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before arrival.
There are 43 government facilities and 60 private clinics and labs offering the gold-standard test in Saudi Arabia. Some require on-site attendance, others have drive-thru services and even home visits but at extra cost.
Prices for testing start from SR129 ($34) and can go as high as SR1,300, with the cost depending on how fast people want the service to be.
Clinics can process results within hours, with the average being 8-12. There can be extra charges if people want detailed printouts and online copies, as many of the labs contacted by Arab News only provided clients with text messages informing them of their negative status.
Many of the labs contacted offered expedited results in as little as two hours, for up to SR1,300.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Health Authority, Weqaya, has a list of government-approved laboratories on its website, https://covid19.cdc.gov.sa, and the information can also be obtained through the Ministry of Health’s call center on 937.
Authorities are requesting that all travelers check the rules relating to pre-flight testing and abide by the regulations from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and Ministry of Interior.
People traveling from Saudi Arabia who have had two vaccination doses, received one dose within two weeks before departure or have recovered from a COVID-19 infection at least six months prior to traveling abroad will be able to visit a number of international destinations, with the exception of 13 destinations that are prohibited for travel, according to the ministry.
Travel to India, Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Turkey, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Belarus, and Armenia is banned.
GACA said earlier that around 385 flights were expected to operate throughout the Kingdom’s airports on Monday, when international travel resumed.