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Coronavirus: Screening

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN HL649, tabled on 21 January 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce temperature screening at airports for the coronavirus following the government of China’s confirmation that the virus can be transmitted from person to person.

Answered on

30 January 2020

As announced by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on 23 January, enhanced monitoring measures were put in place for all direct flights from Wuhan to the United Kingdom in response to the outbreak of Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV).

We are now rolling out enhanced monitoring of all direct flights from China. These measures do not include the introduction of temperature screening. Expert advice suggests temperature screening would be of very limited effectiveness and detect only a small minority of cases. This is because symptoms do not usually appear until five to seven days, and sometimes up to 14 days.

This means that only a very small proportion of people would likely be symptomatic during a flight or immediate arrival to the UK and would therefore be picked up by temperature screening.

The focus of the proposed measures is to identify those who may be at risk of having contracted WN-CoV, ensuring that they have information and support if they are concerned and can contact Public Health England staff at the airport.