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Traveling internationally? Carolina Pharmacy rolls out new PCR test, results in 1 hour.

Headed to Hawaii? What about Europe? Those are just a few of the many destinations still requiring proof of a negative COVID test, regardless of vaccination status.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Pharmacy has plans to roll out a new RT-PCR test, with results in just 1 hour. Typically, PCR test results still take anywhere from 2 to 4 days to come back.

Kavel Bhathela, a Pharmacist with Carolina Pharmacy told WCNC Charlotte he’s been trying to acquire that specific type of test for the pharmacy since December after learning organizations like the NFL and NBA were using them to provide quick, accurate test results to players.

With most sports seasons now over, Bhathela said he got the call and jumped at the opportunity, saying the rapid PCR results could now benefit travelers.

“We get calls every day where people are like 'I need a PCR test and I need it today', 'I missed my flight', or 'my travel plans got changed' or 'I didn’t realize I even needed a PCR test before travel',” said Bhathela.

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Even as more Americans get their COVID-19 vaccine -- and as international travel restrictions loosen -- most countries are still requiring Americans to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight overseas.

Do your summer travels plans include Hawaii? What about Europe? Those are just a few of the many destinations still requiring proof of a negative COVID test, regardless if you’ve been vaccinated or not.

“We have some people who end up coming to us from the airport and they’re in a bind and they’ll get stuck here or they’ll have to change their travel plans entirely,” he said.

Up until now, the process for receiving PCR test results was time-consuming.

“We must first collect the sample, then ship that test out to a third party that’s processing that particular test,” said Bhathela, who said the testing site then had to wait on a third party to also upload the results.

Carolina Pharmacy, he said, is now handling the entire process in-house.

“With the new equipment that we’ve acquired and the new testing we’ll be able to offer, you’ll be able to get quicker PCR turnarounds, down to an hour,” he said.

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The test will be available beginning June 21, at several Carolina Pharmacy sites, including 3 locations in Charlotte and 1 in Rock Hill. The test costs $190, according to their site.

If you plan to travel internationally and are unsure of what type of test you’ll need and in what timeframe, Bhathela says their website also offers travel assistance.

“Because there is such a variation in what test is required, we do offer travel assistance to patients who do need help trying to figure out what test they need or what requirements they need to meet in order to get to their destination,” he said.

Contact Ashley Daley at adaley@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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