Coronavirus: Flights bring 15,000 people a day to UK without screening

This short article illustrates a Public Health England mindset that baffles Owl. 

Owl vividly remembers BBC news showing passengers disembarking from the last commercial flight to leave Wuhan before China imposed lockdown (around the end of January). They were being given a leaflet about symptoms etc but no one was collecting names or contact details or any information on where they were going. Similarly, neither GP’s nor NHS 111 are  keeping any record of who is/has self isolated with Covid symptoms.

Lack of recording, let alone testing, in the article below is explained as follows: “The epidemiological impact of keeping travel open is very small because there’s already large transmission here.” But aren’t we trying to reduce this to a minimum – Owl?

Only makes the eventual task of living with a manageable level of Covid-19 infection harder.

Graeme Paton

At least 15,000 people a day are flying into the UK without checks on their medical condition, the health secretary admitted yesterday.

Matt Hancock said that the equivalent of 105,000 passengers a week were entering the UK from countries including those with serious coronavirus outbreaks such as the US, China, Spain and Italy. Criticism has mounted over the failure to impose health checks or a compulsory period in quarantine for people arriving at UK airports. The US has banned entry for people from Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

The government has insisted that routine health screening for all passengers on arrival would do nothing to halt the spread of Covid-19 because of the scale of the outbreak in the UK. The incubation period of up to two weeks for infected people also means that testing often fails to identify sufferers.

This week it emerged that a second border force worker at Heathrow had died from coronavirus, prompting calls for personal protective equipment for all frontline workers. Yesterday Easyjet said that it expected to be forced to keep middle seats empty when flights resume to maintain social distancing. However, speaking on Good Morning Britain on ITV, Mr Hancock defended the government’s position.

“We don’t test at airports because the number of people coming through has dropped dramatically,” he said. “The epidemiological impact of keeping travel open is very small because there’s already large transmission here.”


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