Call for global airport health screening

A global standard in the health screening of airline passengers should be introduced, according to the boss of Heathrow.

Worldwide collaboration on testing would “provide reassurance and confidence in flying” after the coronavirus crisis, similar to the ban on liquids and aerosols more than ten years ago.

The London hub’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said that he could “completely understand” confusion around the lack of thermal screening at British airports.

And he raised the prospect of standards being introduced for health screening similar to security checks on liquid and laptops.

Holland-Kaye said that people arriving from countries where infrared cameras had been installed to search for travellers with high temperatures, such as China and Italy, had questioned why they had not been introduced at Heathrow.

“That’s something you would see at other destinations and people assume that must be a higher level of testing than Public Health England does,” he told The Times.

“Public Health England has obviously looked at this and decided that it’s not appropriate for testing, but I can completely understand why passengers would wonder why they saw cameras at the airport where they got on the plane but didn’t see them when they arrived.”

He said that it would be “helpful to everyone” for nations to agree what health testing should take place at airports after Covid-19.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if this becomes a little bit like the liquids ban when it came in in 2006,” he said. “At that time, that was when you had to take your laptop and liquids out of your bag. That was a big change in the way people travel. It helped keep people safe.”

But Public Health England insisted that cameras would not be introduced at UK airports, arguing that they had “little clinical value” and detected only a “very small minority” of infected passengers, the newspaper reported.

Heathrow is to start using just one runway for take offs and landings from today due to the global slump in air traffic.

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