3rd April 2020 – Why are flights still arriving into the UK from COVID-19 hotspots?

A Blog by Dr David J Flavell PhD FRCPath
Charity & Scientific Director of Leukaemia Busters

3rd April 2020

Flights of Fancy


Why you might ask why are flights from New York, Rome and Madrid, epicentres of COVID-19 infection, still arriving into London’s Heathrow Airport?

It may be that a proportion of passengers are UK citizens returning home but I’m certain that some will be arriving as visitors from the countries of the flights origin. Perhaps most shocking of all is that there are no health checks on these arriving passengers and all that they’re currently asked to do is voluntarily self-isolate once they arrive at their final destination with no further checks that they are doing so. They are then free to mingle in the community using buses, trains and taxis until they arrive at whatever is their final destination in the UK be it Glasgow, Leeds or London.

It is axiomatically obvious that this is a sure way to import additional infection around the UK from abroad and serious questions need to be asked about why this has been allowed to continue when there should have been a clampdown on international passenger entries to the country weeks ago? A government spokesperson has previously commented that there was no evidence that closing borders would prevent the spread of COVID-19. It makes me wonder where they have got their information from.  This attitude is nothing short of short-sighted misguided madness when it is so obvious that such behaviour is bound to contribute to the burden of infected cases in the UK and increase the infection and subsequent death rate as a consequence.

What should the UK government do?

If passenger traffic from abroad is to continue then at the very least arriving passengers regardless of whether they are UK nationals or not should be forced by the authorities to quarantine at a dedicated centre for 14 days and tested before and after quarantine  for the SARS-CoV-2 virus using the RT-PCR method for the presence of viable virus. Other countries such as South Korea, Japan and Singapore have implemented such a similar policy and have been markedly more successful in reducing infection and thus death rates. The cost of the UK not doing so will be counted in lives lost and soaring infection rates that will overwhelm our health services. Do something to stop this NOW!

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