United Kingdom
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Launch of Covid traveller tests portal descends into farce as the website crashes within hours 

The launch of a new Covid traveller tests portal descended into farce yesterday as listed companies displayed no stock and advertised ‘misleading’ prices – before the website crashed within hours.

The Department of Health launched the list ahead of rule changes tomorrow allowing double-jabbed holidaymakers to take a rapid lateral flow test by day two of their return rather than a far pricier PCR swab.

But the list of firms contained several which did not actually offer the rapid swabs, were out of stock within hours or were advertising prices which failed to include other hidden costs.

The Department of Health launched the list ahead of rule changes tomorrow allowing double-jabbed holidaymakers to take a rapid lateral flow test by day two of their return

It follows the fiasco over the original PCR tests list, when firms also advertised misleading prices and failed to deliver swabs and results on time, and will raise concerns about the capacity of the system ahead of the half-term break.

By yesterday afternoon the government web page displayed the message: ‘This site is currently offline due to high demand.’ 

Some firms were understood to have received as many as 9,000 orders.

It follows the fiasco over the original PCR tests list, when firms also advertised misleading prices and failed to deliver swabs and results on time

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The UK Health Security Agency has put in place extensive checks to ensure pricing is fair and affordable for travellers. 

'It is unacceptable for any private testing company to take advantage of holidaymakers and any private providers showing misleading pricing on gov.uk are being removed.’