With the sacred 5-day Christmas break looming, you may be wondering whether it’s worth getting your bubble tested for COVID-19 prior to the festivities getting underway. Let’s face it, no one wants to be giving or receiving coronavirus this Christmas! Despite feeling excited about being able to see family/friends, albeit, in more limited numbers, you may still be thinking about how you can stay as safe as possible. For many, it will be quite a giant leap away from the no-hugging, hand-sanitising, 2 meter-ing habits we’ve spent the best part of a year trying to embrace. 

With Boris Johnson urging caution and suggesting to consider getting a COVID-19 test before meeting with elderly relatives, Dr Joel McCay from Melio Health shares some important things to consider…

You don’t have to – Unless you have family in a care home, you won’t need either a PCR test or an antibody test to visit your loved ones. So doing so without won’t be breaking any laws.

It won’t guarantee anyone is 100% safe – A PCR test can only tell you if you have or have not got the virus at the point at which you did the swab. And whilst having the antibodies can make you safer, you could still be able to pass the virus on. It’s essential to continue keeping social distance, washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask when needed.

You’ll need to do it privately – Given the pressures on the government and its test and trace program, you can only receive a PCR test from the NHS if you’re showing symptoms. If you aren’t, the test will have to come out of your pocket. And the NHS is yet to launch an antibody test.


It’ll give you some peace of mind – Any knowledge you can gain about your health during this period is reassuring. Whether it be knowing you don’t have the virus before visiting your grandparents, or knowing you’ve got the antibodies and have some resilience to the virus whilst you’re out and about during the festive period.

It’ll help you make better-informed decisions about the risk – Truly assessing risk can only be done when you have the facts of the situation. In the context of Christmas during a pandemic, that means knowing: (1) if you have or have had the virus and (2) those you’re spending time with have or have had the virus. Both bits of information are only available through testing.

It’s pretty easy – Depending on where you are, tests can be booked for the same day. Once your appointment is confirmed you just need to head to the clinic where you’ll either have a swab taken or a blood test; either way, you can be in and out within 15 minutes.

Tests are effective and accurate – The quality of tests are now much better than when they first came out. But you should still make sure that the tests you go for have the highest accuracy available so that you’re able to enjoy family time with confidence and peace of mind.

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