For travelers, a recent negative Covid-19 test can be a golden entry ticket to many US and international destinations without having to be quarantined for two weeks.
But how easy is it to fake a negative test before a trip?
One newspaper in the UK reported that several travelers took the email from the Covid-19 testing laboratory, printed it and handed it over to airline staff before boarding the plane.
A man from Blackburn, England, say to Lancashire Telegraph how he changed his friend’s email that showed a negative Covid-19 test result. The man just changed the name in the email to his own. He then printed a fake Covid-19 test certificate, took it to the airport, and boarded a flight to Pakistan.
“It’s very simple,” said the man. “Everyone knows someone who has had a Covid test. You simply get their negative test and change the name and date of birth to yours. You also enter a test date that falls within the required time limit. You download the e-mail, modify it, then print it. “
That Lancashire Telegraph also found an active black market for fake Covid-19 test results in the UK, with prices ranging from £ 50 ($ 65) in Blackburn to £ 150 ($ 196) in Bradford for last minute fake tests.
When it comes to acceptable evidence of a negative Covid-19 test for international travel, it’s a mixed bag, depending on your destination.
It is evident from the travel notifications posted on Delta Airline and United Airlines website, some countries will accept hard copies of negative Covid-19 test results. Other destinations go a step further, requiring travelers to create a digital profile and upload negative test results, which can then be verified prior to arrival.
For domestic travel in the United States, dozens of states give out-of-state visitors the option to quarantine for two weeks or provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test. But how the evidence is examined and applied varies from state to state.
Heading to Rhode Island? “Travelers may be asked to provide negative test results and / or a certificate of compliance to staff at their lodgings and accommodations upon check-in,” according to the state health department guide for tourists. “Please keep these materials easily accessible either on mobile devices or as hard copies.”
But to bypass the 14-day mandatory quarantine in Hawaii, a traveler must create an online user account with the state Hawai’i Safe Travel program, then get your pre-travel Covid-19 test from a select list of trusted testing partners. The next step is to upload the negative test results to the Safe Travels Hawai’i account for verification. Finally, QR codes are emailed to travelers for each stage of the journey.
This messy patchwork approach to verifying the results of this Covid-19 test might come out soon, thanks to a new application called CommonPass which creates a standard digital health card that securely documents a traveler’s certified Covid-19 test status while maintaining the confidentiality of health data.
This app was created by the non-profit Public Projects and World Economic Forum, together with a consortium of interested parties around the world that includes US Customs and Border Patrol, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, and various airlines.
After downloading the application, a traveler can get a Covid-19 test at participating labs and immediately see the results in the application. Tourists can also fill out additional screening questionnaires requested by destination countries. Finally, CommonPass confirms that the traveler complies with all entry requirements and generates a QR code that can be scanned by airline staff and border officials.
The first CommonPass trials have started on several United Airlines flights between New York and London and on certain Cathay Pacific flights between Hong Kong and Singapore.
The hope is that this ambitious app will soon allow governments around the world to end travel quarantines altogether.