Airport Screenings Ineffective, says CDC

COVID-19 has a wide range of symptoms which are still evolving. This makes symptom-based screenings at airports costly and ineffective, says a study
Representative image A medical worker screens passengers
Representative image A medical worker screens passengers

A study just published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) has come to the conclusion that airport screenings for COVID-19 are not very effective.

The study focused on CDC efforts in US airports to screen travellers from January 17 to September 13, 2020.

A total of 766,044 travellers were screened and only nine people were found positive for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2). That translates to just 0.001% of everyone screened or about one out of every 85,000 people.

Experts say that symptom-based screening programmes are ineffective because COVID-19 has a wide range of non-specific symptoms common to other infections, and there are many asymptomatic cases.

The results of the study suggests that passenger entry screening was &ldquoresource-intensive with low yield&rdquo of laboratory-diagnosed COVID-19 cases. The report said that &ldquoSymptom-based screening programs are ineffective because of the nonspecific clinical presentation of Covid-19 and asymptomatic cases. Reducing Covid-19 importation has transitioned to enhancing communication with travelers to promote recommended preventive measures, strengthening response capacity at ports of entry, and encouraging pre-departure and post-arrival testing. Collection of contact information from international air passengers before arrival would facilitate timely post-arrival management when indicated."

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