Travellers arriving from countries that have been put on a red list due to the number of new coronavirus cases they have should be tested to cut quarantine times, the government’s scientific advisers have said.
Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said people could be tested at the border for COVID-19 and then again several days later to confirm a diagnosis.
The group added this would allow travellers to quarantine for 10 days instead of the current two weeks.
This process would pick up 96% of infections, according to Public Health England modellers.
This week the UK reimposed coronavirus quarantines on France, the Netherlands and other countries which sparked dismay among airlines and airports struggling to overcome the industry's worst crisis.
Sage made the suggestion for airport testing in June, with the minutes of the meeting published on Friday.
It said: “Double testing of travellers significantly reduces the risk of false negatives, and could enable quarantine duration of less than 14 days.”
Travellers could also possibly get tested prior to returning to the UK in order to reduce the quarantine period, Sage added.
The virus does not always show up on initial tests so a period of isolation would always be needed.
Sage revealed on Friday the R rate range of coronavirus infection for the UK is between 0.8 and 1.
The data also showed the growth rate of coronavirus transmission is between -4% and -1%, changing from between minus 5% and zero last week.
A growth rate between -4% to -1% means the number of new infections is shrinking by between 1% and 4% every day.
In England, the overall R rate range is between 0.8 and 1, but Sage has indicated it is not confident that R is currently below one in the country.
In the North-West it is estimated to have risen above one.
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