BRIDGETOWN — Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) has announced Barbados’ new COVID-19 PCR testing partnership with StageZero Life Sciences, which offers PCR tests and results within 72 hours prior to arrival as mandated by the Barbados government.
Petra Roach, Interim CEO, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., made the announcement in Barbados this morning alongside Hon. Lisa Cummins, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Don Thomson with StageZero Life Sciences and Dr. Songee Beckles from Barbados’ Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“It’s no secret that as COVID-19 rates have surged in some of our key source markets, there have been challenges with getting test results back within the required three days,” said Minister Cummins.
“In partnership with StageZero Life Sciences, we are very proud to announce we will have the capacity to have test results back within the required timeframe,” she said.
“Our goal is safe testing for travel to a safe destination for a safe vacation.”
In the Canadian market there have been any number of challenges with getting test results back in time, added Cummins.
In both Canada and the U.S., there have been situations where travellers with flights booked to come to Barbados don’t receive their test results back in time, leading to cancelled flights and travel plans, and more rebooking.
By contrast, StageZero, which tests across Canada and in all 50 states in the U.S., turns test results around in 24 – 48 hours, says Thomson.
Thomson outlined the procedure during this morning’s webcast presentation…
- A dedicated website, stagezerolifesciences.com/Barbados, is the first stop for any traveller looking to go to Barbados.
- At that site, the traveller makes the appointment, at least 7 days in advance. A user-friendly calendar on the site helps the traveller know the best days to schedule the test. Reminders are sent out 72, 48 and 24 hours before the test.
- A testing practitioner comes to the traveller to administer the test. “We test people in their homes, we test people in transit, for example when they’re transiting at an airport,” said Thomson. “A lot of people are fearful of going to a lab, because they’re worried they might catch something. We come to the individual.”
- The test kit is sent out to the traveller in advance. After the test practitioner administers the test, the traveller couriers the test kit back to StageZero, using the box sent with the original mailer. Kits are pre-labelled and pre-paid by StageZero for overnight priority shipping. Pricing starts at Cdn$340 for one traveller. The per person rate drops with each additional person in the household. For two travellers, it’s $590; for three travellers, $730; for four travellers; $920; and for five travellers, $1,110.
- Results are emailed to the traveller in PDF format in an encrypted email within 24 – 48 hours. The traveller then uploads the test results to https://travelform.gov.bb/home, and brings a copy of the test on their flight.
Thomson says that while travellers are required to pay upfront for the tests, they can submit the statements to their insurance companies for reimbursement. “We’ve been testing since May 2020 and we’ve heard of no pushback from the insurance companies,” he said. “The major insurers know how we are. We’ve found it’s worked very well and very smoothly on the reimbursement process.”
Travellers heading to Barbados don’t have to use StageZero, as there are a number of labs offering PCR tests, notes Dr. Beckles. “We do accept test results from other companies,” she said.
Sonia Marville-Carter, Consul General for the Government of Barbados in Canada, said the new testing partnership with StageZero “will go over very well with the diaspora and other Canadians.”
Collins says Barbados’ partnership with StageZero is transformational. “We are very excited to offer safe travel to Barbados,” she said. “We say, this is safe testing to a safe destination, for a safe vacation.”