Wednesday 22 April 2020 12:25 AM UTC
LONDON April 22: England’s deputy chief medical officer has defended the Government’s decision not to screen passengers arriving at UK airports for coronavirus.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said a “basic problem” with port entry checks was they would not pick up cases of people infected overseas but who were yet to display any Covid-19 symptoms.
He said the virus had an incubation period of up to 14 days, meaning that someone with the disease could still “sail” through any screening as they would not necessarily show signs of a fever.
Tourists have previously lambasted the “shocking” lack of testing upon arriving back in the UK during the pandemic.
And earlier in April, Heathrow Airport’s chief executive called for an international common standard on medical screening so people can “travel with confidence” once the crisis recedes.
Asked why the UK has not introduced screening, Prof Van-Tam told the Downing Street daily briefing on Tuesday:
“The problem is that people can be infected before they get on the flight and the incubation period for this virus is up to 14 days. And it’s typically five days.
“So I can fly back… on a long flight and I can become infected in that country before I get on the aircraft, and I will sail through Heathrow with absolutely no symptoms at all.
“I’m not being untruthful, there is nothing to declare. I won’t have a fever, I won’t be picked out.
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