Covid-19 is spread by social contact; the virus survives by finding new hosts. That is how the pandemic thrives and spreads. Travel and social contact facilitate the spreading of the virus, whether within national boundaries or between countries. Inevitably in our industry plays a large part in this.
The UK has so far relied on quarantining travellers returning from countries with higher incidences of cases. Enforcement of quarantining is difficult; there is no data on how many driven, by the need to make a living or fearing for their jobs, ignore the obligation to self isolate. Some have, often at significant cost, returned to beat the quarantine deadline. While this ensures compliance with the regulations, it is no guaranttee that they are not carrying the virus. I wrote here two weeks ago about the impact of this quarantine roulette on travel and tourism.
People leave the airport, often after no one has collected their Public Health Passenger Locator Form, to travel by public transport back to their home to self-isolate. The UK was slow, and some would say very slow, to impose quarantining and to close UK borders in March. Many argue that it is too late to impose this strategy now.
They argue too that the UK government should employ a more nuanced approach. They ask, why impose quarantines on people returning from the Algarve where infections are low? It is because rates of infection are rising in Lisbon. Other countries focus on hotspot cities and areas.
The travel industry and airports have been arguing for some time for testing on arrival and departure. Collaborative testing between states could create a protective corridor to permit international travel, just as security screening does.
The LAMP test costs €38, completed the day before or on the day of departure covers the passenger for 72 hours through a digitally secure iWarrant. This is a ‘lab in a box’ solution using Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) technology, and it is I fully CE/IVD certified for use in human diagnostics.
The Daily Telegraph in the UK has launched a Test4Travel campaign, and the UK government says that it is looking at the suggested system. The Telegraph is read by many as the house paper of the Conservatives; it is undoubtedly influential. They quote “Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG@: “The Government is using arbitrary statistics to effectively ban 160 countries and in the process destroying the economy. It needs to introduce a testing regime to restore confidence.”
We wait to see.