SNP MP calls for coronavirus tests at airports

Health checks need to be introduced at airports and other points of entry to the UK to limit the spread of coronavirus, an SNP MP has claimed.

Joanna Cherry has asked that the Home Secretary introduce health checks at airports to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Joanna Cherry has written to the Home Secretary Priti Patel suggesting that border control checks, and potential quarantining of new arrivals, should be implemented to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The SNP's Westminter home affairs spokesperson said that the UK was an "outlier" in failing to test people at airports and other entry points to the country, and with 260,000 passengers arriving weekly - including 8000 at Scottish airports - testing had to be introduced.

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"Other countries in Europe and across the world have already introduced these measures - leaving the UK as an outlier. The UK government has been far too slow to act and must now step up to prevent an increased risk of transmission.

"For people to have confidence in the UK government's approach, it is crucial they put these long-overdue measures in place and set out how this will form part of a considered exit strategy."

Ms Patel had previously suggested closing all airports to stop people arriving from coronavirus hotspots, but the idea was rejected by the Prime Minister. Ms Cherry had raised the prospect of tests earlier this month with Ms Patel, but had been told the issue was one for the Department of Transport and the current approach was based on scientific and medical advice.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said routine screening would not halt the spread of coronavirus because of the scale of the outbreak in the UK.

However, in her letter Ms Cherry writes: "There seems now to be general agreement that we should be moving to a system of testing, contract tracing and isolation. As we move to contact tracing, new systems will require to be put in place and I am suggesting that it would be appropriate to include some form of health checks at airports and other points of entry to the UK for those arriving from abroad.

"I would like to propose that COVID-19 assessment points are set up after Border Control, with health checks, including virus testing, and instructions and advice for quarantine as a

condition for admission to the UK.

"I fully accept that health checks, even testing, would not catch every case of the virus that comes into the UK before communication. However, given the rate of transmission of this virus, any significant interruption of the chain of transmission would seem to be worthwhile. Moreover, I am sure that border health control measures of the sort adopted by other countries might also serve to increase public confidence and support for the general approach as we move towards consideration of the conditions for a relaxing of lockdown."

Flight operators, such as Emirates, are also already testing passengers for coronavirus before boarding some flights, with results available ten minutes after tests were conducted at check in, as well as asking passengers to wear masks.

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