PCR Test: looking to get a COVID-19 test in Cartagena? We provide advice and information on places and prices for getting a COVID-19 test in Cartagena.
Coronavirus show no signs of going away in Colombia. Many Medellin Guru readers have asked about COVID-19 tests and particularly about PCR tests needed for international travel.
Note the U.S. requires a COVID-19 test for travelers to the U.S. starting on January 26, either a PCR test or an antigen test.
Whether you need a PCR test for travel, have symptoms or have been in contact with someone infected, we provide information about obtaining COVID-19 tests in Cartagena.
We have a popular article about how to get a COVID-19 test in Medellín and also about how to get a COVID-19 test in Bogotá. But many readers aslo have asked where they can get a test in Cartagena. So, we now have this article.
Do You Need a Test?
Many people don’t necessarily need to be tested for coronavirus and can avoid putting strain on the medical system. If you’re traveling to another country you may need to get tested, depending on country.
If you’ve had contact with infected people it’s probably a good idea even if you don’t have symptoms. However, you can simply self-isolate for 14 days. The most common symptoms include: fever, dry cough, loss of taste and/or smell.
The second decision is whether you want to leave the house or not. You may find it hard to get around, or you may be worried about infecting others as you travel. EPS insurance providers generally recommend home visits for tests, private clinics may offer home service at a small cost. Waiting for a home visit reduces infection chances, but will increase overall time.
The U.S. Requires a COVID-19 Test Starting on January 26
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on January 12 issued an order that will require a negative COVID-19 test from all air passengers entering the United States starting on January 26 — a move it says may help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
To enter the U.S., you will need to be tested no more than three days before your flight to the U.S. departs. Make sure to be tested with a viral test (PCR or antigen test) to determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19.
This used to be 72 hours but the CDC has since clarified what it means by its three-day policy. Their explanation makes the requirement more straightforward for travelers:
The 3-day period is the three days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.
If you have had a positive viral COVID-19 test in the past 3 months and you have met the criteria to end isolation, you may travel to the U.S. instead with documentation of your positive viral test results and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that states you have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.”
Airlines will not permit you to board on flights to the U.S. starting on January 26 if you do not have a required test or documentation of recovery.
On April 2, 2021, the CDC announced that a COVID test is no longer needed for domestic travel in the U.S. if fully vaccinated. Some readers were confused by this thinking they can travel internationally to the U.S. without a COVID test if fully vaccination. According to the CDC on April 2:
If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get tested no more than 3 days before you travel by air into the United States (US) and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).
A PCR Test is No Longer Required for Travel to Colombia
According to El Tiempo, the Minister of Health, Fernando Ruiz, explained on Wednesday the guidelines of resolution 777 of 2021, which sets the criteria for the economic and social reactivation of the country.
In an interview with Caracol Noticias, Ruiz revealed that Colombia will no longer request the requirement of the PCR test from travelers, both Colombian and foreign, who enter the country. Also, the CoronApp requirement will be removed.
The bottom line is it will no longer be necessary for travelers to present a negative PCR test upon arrival in the country. This measure began to take effect on June 1, 2021, as confirmed by the Minister of Health, Fernando Ruiz.
What is a PCR Test?
The two most common are PCR and antigen (antígeno), with antibody testing coming a distant third.
The first type of test, RT-PCR is a molecular test that is considered the gold standard and is used by Colombia for most of its test. PT-PCR stands for reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test, which tries to find genetic sequences of the virus by deploying primers – chemicals or reagents which are added to test if a reaction occurs – that attach to the targeted genetic sequences.
The PCR test and antigen tests are performed with nasal swabs and are usually the most reliable in the early stages of the disease.
- A PCR test is typically needed for travel and is a more accurate test, especially in the early stages of coronavirus. However, this test is more expensive and takes longer to return results.
- The antigen test is quicker and not always as reliable as a PCR test. This test is typically recommended only if you have symptoms or seven days after you’ve had contact with someone who’s tested positive.
- The antibody (anticuerpo) test is another option, although much less useful. This test is a rapid serological test that relies on detecting antibodies in a blood sample, usually obtained through a simple finger prick. These tests do not require special equipment to process the results.
Getting a COVID-19 Test at the Rafael Nuñez (CTG) Airport
HealthCars handles the COVID-19 testing at the Rafael Nuñez International Airport (CTS), which is fast. They offer a guaranteed 24-36 hours for processing a PCR test and just one hour for the antigen test.
- PCR test cost – 350,000 pesos
- Antigen test cost – 150,000 pesos
- Antibody test – 110,000 pesos
- Appointment – No – they also do home testing
- Time for PCR test results –36 hours or less. Or one hour for an antigen test at the airport (if they aren’t busy)
Getting a COVID-19 Test at Private Clinics in Cartagena
You can obtain a COVID-19 test at private clinics in Cartagena. We recommend Clinica MediHelp, based on the experience of two Medellin Guru readers.
Test Location – Bocagrande Carrera 6a. # 5 -101
- PCR test cost – 400,000 pesos
- Antigen test cost – 170,000 pesos
- Antibody test costs – 140,000 pesos
- Appointment – No
- Time for PCR test results – up to 24 hours, antigen 3 hours=
Getting a COVID-19 Test at Private Labs in Cartagena
There are several labs in Cartagena which offer COVID-19 tests. Two Medellin Guru reader reported a good experience at Synlab Colombia, Synlab has locations in several cities in Colombia including Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena and Medellín.
Test Location – Centro de Salud y Negocios Ronda Real Local 226C , Dg. 31, Cartagena, near the La Castelllana Mall.
- PCR test cost – 280,000 pesos
- Antigen test cost – 150,000 pesos
- Antibody test costs – 60,000 pesos
- Appointment – yes – You can schedule a test here.
- Hours – Monday to Friday: 7 am to 11:40 am and 1 pm to 2:40 pm
- Time for PCR test results (slower than their airport location) – 48 hours or less. Or up to 24 hours for an antigen test.
Another reader recommended Laboratorio Lorena Vejarano in Cartagena.
Test location: Santa Lucia near Bomba el Amparo
- PCR test cost – 210,000 pesos
- Antigen test cost – 90,000 pesos
- Antibody test costs – 75,000 pesos
Getting a COVID-19 Test Using EPS Insurance
Since all EPS insurance providers are different, prices will vary, possibly dramatically. Two Medellin Guru readers used SURA EPS to obtain a PCR test. They couldn’t get at test at a SURA medical center, but had to schedule a visit to their home. Scheduling can vary, for one reader it was the same day and the other in three days.
EPS call centers may avoid appointments for tests if you don’t have symptoms and may ask you to self-isolate instead of taking a test. Also, processing times are longer than private hospitals and labs.
- PCR test cost – free or low cost
- Antigen test cost – free or low cost
- Antibody test cost – free or low cost
- Appointment – needed
- Time for test results – 72 hours or longer
Medellin Guru’s Coronavirus Series
Medellin Guru has a series of articles about the coronavirus pandemic and the impacts in Colombia: Also, these articles are being kept up-to-date, as this is a fast-moving topic:
- Nightly Curfew and Dry Law in Antioquia from March 25 to June 9
- Colombia Needs to Ramp up COVID-19 Vaccinations
- COVID-19 Vaccinations in Colombia Start on February 17
- PCR Test: How to Get a COVID-19 Test in Medellín
- PCR Test: How to Get a COVID-19 Test in Bogotá
- PCR Test: how to Get a COVID-19 Test in Cartagena
- Nightly Curfews in January in Medellin and Antioquia Start on January 6
- Nightly Curfew in Medellín For Christmas and New Year’s Holidays
- Colombia is Buying 10 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine from Pfizer
- Does Colombia Require a COVID-19 Test for International Travelers?
- 8 Reasons Why Colombia is Unlikely to Return to a Quarantine
- Coronavirus Cases Increase in Medellín: What Happens Next?
- New Normal in Medellín: Medellín is Returning to Normal
- Will the Quarantine Return to Colombia? What if Cases Increase?
- New Normal in Medellín: Medellín is Returning to Normal
- Colombia’s Quarantine Ends on September 1: New Phase Starts
- Tourism Impact of Coronavirus: Colombia Starts to Reactivate Tourism
- Economy Impacts in Colombia Due to Extended Quarantine
- Epicenter of Coronavirus in Colombia: Bogotá is the Epicenter
- Medellín Plans the Total Reopening of Economic Activities in the City
- When Will the Quarantine End in Colombia? On September 1?
- Humanitarian Flights from Colombia to the U.S. and Other Countries
- Beware of Fake News in Colombia About Coronavirus and Quarantines
- Reopening Gymnasiums, Churches and Movie Theaters in Colombia
- Reopening Amusement Parks, Zoos and Nature Reserves in Colombia
- Medellín Starts Free COVID-19 Tests on the Medellín Metro
- New COVID-19 Preventive Measures in Medellín to Contain the Pandemic
- Penalties for Violating the Quarantine in Medellín are Stiff
- COVID-19 Orange Alert in Bogotá: New Lockdowns in Bogotá
- Medellín Starts to Lift the Quarantine: Enters Smart Isolation Phase
- Colombia Started to Lift the Quarantine – What Does this Mean?
- Coronavirus: When Will the Quarantine Be Lifted in Colombia?
- Colombia Starts to Lift the Quarantine in COVID-19 Free Areas
- Colombia Quarantine: Nationwide Quarantine Extended to September 1
- Coronavirus in Colombia: Myth vs Reality – Current Status
- Coronavirus Hospitalization in Colombia: Myth vs Reality
- Are Medellín and Antioquia Winning the Coronavirus Battle?
- 23 Cities with a Major Increase in Coronavirus Cases in Colombia
- Colombia Coronavirus Death Rate: What are the Chances of Dying?
- Coronavirus: When Will Things Return to Normal in Colombia?
- COVID-19 Testing in Colombia: Realty About Coronavirus Testing
- Life as an Expat: During Medellín’s Coronavirus Quarantine
- Colombian Visa Process Changes: Due to Quarantine and Coronavirus
- Medellín Coronavirus Closures – What is Closed in Medellín?
- Pico y Cedula: A Restriction for Grocery Shopping in the Aburrá Valley During the Quarantine
- Pico y Cedula in Colombia: Which is Strictest Out of 5 Largest Cities?
- Medellín Quarantine Starts on March 20 for Four Days
The Bottom Line: How to Get a COVID-19 Test in Cartagena
Many Medellin Guru readers have asked about how to obtain a PCR test or COVID-19 test in Cartagena. So, we provided this guide.
It is possible to obtain a PCR test in Cartagena for cheaper than in the U.S. Many readers have reported they paid from $150 to $250 for a PCR test in the U.S. For example, one reader recently reported they paid $200 USD for a PCR test in the U.S. And you can obtain a PCR test in Cartagena for less than $100 USD.
However, one reader also reports that it is possible to get a free PCR test in Texas, Kansas, D.C., Arizona and South Carolina from gogettested.com with results reportedly within 48 to 96 hours.
There are many places that offer a COVID-19 test in Cartagena and we provide information about several testing paces in this article that Medellin Guru readers have reported success and good service.
If readers have experienced success with other COVID-19 testing places in Cartagena, please let us know about the testing place including the cost and processing time in the comments below. We can add to this article.
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Editors note: updated on June 5, 2021 with information that a PCR test is no longer needed to travel to Colombia.