The CDC in the United States looked at the risk assessment and management of COVID-19 among travellers arriving at designated US airports between January 17 and September 13, 2020.

This was an article published on November 13 by Phillip Dollard and others.

Research showed that symptom-based screening programmes were ineffective because of the non-specific clinical presentation of COVID-19 and because of asymptomatic cases.

They found that passenger entry screening had a low yield of laboratory diagnosed COVID-19 cases, 1 per 85,000 travellers screened.

Contact information was missing for a substantial proportion of screened travellers.

They argue that reducing COVID-19 importation has transitioned to enhancing communication with travellers to promote recommended preventive measures, strengthening response capacity at ports of entry, and encouraging pre-departure and post-arrival testing.

The collection of contact information from international air passengers before arrival would facilitate timely post-arrival management when indicated.

The reasons for the low yield were multifactorial and might have included an overall low COVID-19 prevalence in travellers; the relatively long incubation period; an illness presentation with a wide range of severity, afebrile cases, and non-specific symptoms common to other infections; asymptomatic infection; and travellers who might deny symptoms or take steps to avoid detection of illness such as through the use of antipyretic or cough suppressant medications.

The London General Practice is very keen that all travellers should be effectively swabbed or tested for SARS-CoV-2 prior to any travel and provided with a negative certificate.

Dr Paul Ettlinger
London General Practice

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