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Airport accelerates covid tests, adding antigen option



Luxembourg Airport has offered voluntary covid-19 testing to incoming passengers since it reopened at the end of May 2020 Matic Zorman/archives

Luxembourg Airport has offered voluntary covid-19 testing to incoming passengers since it reopened at the end of May 2020 Matic Zorman/archives

Passengers arriving at Luxembourg’s airport will be able to choose to undergo a rapid antigen test or PCR test from 2 January, the government has announced.

The company that operates the airport, Luxairport, began offering PCR tests for incoming passengers when it reopened following the first lockdown, at the end of May in association with the transport ministry. Under the new system, passengers will be issued a voucher to undergo a covid-19 test if they wish. The results will be sent by SMS within three hours.

According to the Luxembourg government, 30% of incoming passengers take a PCR test at the airport. The PCR testing station is located in the arrivals hall while the rapid antigen testing station is at the current exit of the departure hall.

What is an antigen test?

According to the European Commission, antigen tests look for proteins on the surface of the virus to ascertain the presence of the pathogen. Like PCR tests, they require a swab from the back of the nose or throat as a sample. While PCR samples are sent to a lab to be heated and cooled to convert the virus’s RNA into DNA, a process which takes hours, antigen samples are mixed with a solution that unleashes the viral proteins.

The combination is applied to a paper strip containing an antibody that binds the proteins if they are present. The process does not require a lab and can be done in up to 30 minutes. These tests are considered reliable on test subjects that have a high viral load but may lead to false-negative results if a person has a low amount of the virus.