Passengers should be given single coronavirus test at Heathrow and allowed to miss quarantine, expert argues

Airline passengers arriving at Heathrow airport should be able to take a single test for coronavirus and avoid two weeks of self-isolation, a medical expert has claimed.

Dr Simon Worrell, global medical director for the international medical and security company, Collinson, has been involved in setting up a testing facility at Britain’s busiest airport.

More than 13,000 arriving passengers a day will be invited to pay £150 for a PCR swab test.

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The government is yet to give the go-ahead for a trial, and the health secretary has said that testing will be allowed only to reduce the length of quarantine – not to avoid it completely.

At present, arriving passengers from most countries, including France, the Netherlands and Spain, must go into immediate self-isolation for two weeks. Testing is not an option.

But Dr Worrell has questioned the validity of the algorithm that, he says, the government is relying on.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Dr Worrell said: “There are 42 exemptions from quarantine at present. We are asking the government for a 43rd: PCR negativity for Covid-19.

“When we came up with the proposal months ago, nobody was doing it.

“Our case has got stronger and stronger and stronger as more and more countries are doing precisely what we recommended.

“We absolutely feel the tide is turning. PCR tests are the way to increase trade and tourism, and stop all these jobs being lost.

“Our proposition will be good for the country.”

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said a testing regime must be “safe and secure” before travellers could reduce the length of time in quarantine.

“You have to have repeat testing,” he told the BBC Today programme.

But Dr Worrell said: “We fully expect to go down to a single test on arrival. I think that may take only a few weeks.”

The UK government’s antipathy to a single test “was based on an algorithm, not actual data,” he said.

“It’s understandable that in the early days, algorithms can be created, but the situation has changed in the past few months.

“We are willing to work with the government.”

Ministers are expected to consider the options for reducing quarantine in a meeting on Monday.

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