Jeddah: The Authority for Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia introduced fresh Covid-19 testing procedures on Wednesday that mandate travellers to the Kingdom to take rapid antigen tests on arrival. Updated Covid-19 guidelines are invoked for those departing from the Kingdom, too, Arab News reported.
Both Citizens and foreigners must have Covid-19 negative tests, whether vaccinated or not, to get a PCR test or antigen test. Also, the sample must be taken within 48 hours of departure to the country. However, children under eight are exempted from this requirement.
The new guidelines are effective from 1 am Wednesday, which will include that citizens must get their booster shots before departing the Kingdom, which could be jabbed three months after the second dose. Those under 16 and those who have "exempt" status on Tawakkalna were exempted from the requirement.
Meanwhile, fully vaccinated citizens, with vaccines approved by the Kingdom, who have contracted Covid-19 could enter the nation seven days post-testing positive and does not require to test again. Further, those who have not completed approved vaccination could enter ten days after testing positive.
Dr Wail Bajhmom from King Fahad Hospital of Jeddah told Arab News that a rapid antigen test (RAT) is a sensitive test that could detect coronavirus antigens in the sample and provide results in 15 minutes. The test is cheap, and testing kits are available for people to use at home.
He said that in the case of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the test is more detailed and can detect the presence of virus in the sample even if it is minimal. The test required equipped laboratories as well as trained medical personnel. It is expensive, and results need more time, he said.
RAT could be used as a screening test for travellers while PCR is advised as a confirmatory test, Bajhmom added.