Policy impact: England introduces testing strategy for international arrivals

November 30, 2020 • Reading time 1 minute

Published 30 November 2020

Last week the Government announced the introduction of “test and release” on day 5 for international arrivals, which replaces the 14-day quarantine requirement.

This decision follows evidence from our modelling on the effectiveness of air passenger testing (see here), which was submitted to the Global Travel Taskforce. This work, which was undertaken in collaboration with Oxera, showed that the risk of Covid-19 from arriving passengers is lowest with a test on day 3 after arrival (day 5 being slightly less optimal based on the modelling).

This approach to testing balances the uncertainty from Covid-19 test results, which can miss positive cases (the infection is hard to detect at early stages), with compliance with quarantine requirements – evidence suggests that compliance can be as low as 28% for people that are asymptomatic.

This is a big step in the right direction, but there is still a lack of real-world evidence on the effectiveness of testing.

There is not a vast amount of data on how pre-departure, on departure, on arrival, and testing a few days after arrival strategies compare. So, Edge Health is delighted to be continuing its support through working with Heathrow to help coordinate and analyse the data from the trials being run by American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

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Edge Health are a specialist UK healthcare analytics consultancy that use data and insights to improve the delivery of health and care services, so that better outcomes can be delivered more efficiently.