Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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The Coronavirus Test: A Heated Debate

Test at the airport, tests at home, tests 200 miles away, but will testing exempt you from quarantine? And is it the safest option?

Tests, tests, and more tests. This is the current or longstanding conversation reoccurring over the course of this pandemic. Passengers are being quarantined left, right, and centre-and the aviation industry are calling for some alternative other than a two week quarantine.

The Safest Option

Two weeks for most people is not an option, and this has undoubtedly affected aviation. And so, airports are calling for a test on arrival that can be administered at the airport and produces results straightaway. In an ideal world, this would be up and running now, but the reality is, the test that is available-falls short. 

The current test provides a result immediately, but it is proving to be providing a lot of false negatives. Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has chosen to stay with quarantine, rather than a test result for this matter. 

In my opinion, she is right, it is okay for the aviation industry to call for alternate methods, but when those methods are not available, quarantine is the safest option.

The Public Cry Out Against Quarantine

There are now suggestions for a test at the airport, and then a test later at home. If both tests result in ‘negative’, then the traveller has no need to quarantine. Of course, no one is policing this, at least not that we are aware of. And people are people. The other day, a bloke on Twitter told a headteacher of a school to ‘not bother doing quarantine, how will they know?’

I love the social responsibility people are demonstrating. And then they complain…’I can’t believe the government has done this with such short notice’…is the general cry from passengers, but I reiterate: why did you get on a plane in the first place?

The Reality and Availability of an Effective Test

Apparently, the test that is available at some airports, and definitely at Heathrow (although not officially backed by the government), may only reveal 7% of cases, according to the BBC. And to be honest, arriving from your foreign destination would hardly be enough time to have developed anything. The virus can take up to two weeks to develop and detect, so I have heard…definitely at least twelve days to develop…let’s just call it two weeks…you can see the government’s conundrum.

In Iceland, residents arriving on arrival are given an option on whether they want to test for Covid 19 or quarantine. How long the ‘test’ takes to produce a result is anyone’s guess. Of course, there is a test within the UK that is administered to anyone who is exhibiting symptoms, but that is different from the airport test. 

Are Iceland receiving a more reliable test?

Geez, this talk of testing would make your head spin. Without a doubt however, there does seem a bit of a reluctance in the UK when it comes to testing. The infrastructure has come so late and individuals with symptoms are being instructed to travel sometimes up to 200 miles to have one administered! This is through the Test and Protect system. It is clearly not working efficiently at least. 

And I think the answer to this whole thing is testing. If you can have a test that can reliably produce results on a mass basis and quickly, then it can isolate those quickly, and maintain a safe running of society. Why Iceland can have, what sounds like a reliable test, available to be rolled out en masse, and we don’t, doesn’t add up.

On the other hand, Iceland are not the UK, they are a largely isolated country of 364,000 people. Perhaps the government sees the cost of the test to be just too pricey. Last I heard, it was coming in at £60 per test. 

So yes, perhaps Iceland are receiving the test that Brits have to go to drive throughs for.

What is the Answer?

Thankfully, there are other options being considered, which is just as well. Some private companies are suggesting a ‘test on arrival’ which allows a result in 7-24 hours. They are suggesting this as proof enough to not have to quarantine, after a negative result comes in.

Yet, this isn’t enough. Travellers would need to quarantine for at least a week before taking the test again, or the first test. This would make more sense, and would avoid the reliance upon third party services. They could then cut their quarantine in half. Definitely a more attractive option than two weeks indoors. 

But Would This be Enough?

Give it to Nicola Sturgeon, she and her advisors do seem to have gotten it on board…not the virus, the strategy. She is sticking to the two week quarantine, and I think this is the only option at present.

Because, we still do not know for sure how long this virus takes to reproduce. The last I heard, it was 12 days, and so Nicola and her two week quarantine are spot on.

As of today in Scotland and Wales, all arrivals from Portugal and French Polynesia will have to quarantine. And Greece has already been banned. 

With most of Europe on the no go list, is travel really worth it? Nicola doesn’t think so.

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