Since June, the UK has required all international travellers to the UK, except those arriving from a list of exempt (‘travel corridor’) countries, to quarantine for 14 days. Unlike a number of other countries, the UK has not introduced any form of scheme to test travellers for COVID-19. We understand that part of the basis for this policy was evidence presented in a paper by Public Health England (PHE) that concluded testing on arrival at an airport would identify only 7% of virus cases.

Oxera and Edge Health were commissioned by a consortium of airlines, airports and industry organisations to undertake an independent review of the PHE paper, as well as two other studies on the effectiveness of testing schemes from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). We have benefited from input from Dr Kit Yates, a Senior Lecturer in mathematical biology and Co-director of the Centre for Mathematical Biology at the University of Bath. The outputs of our work are intended to feed into the work of the recently established Global Travel Taskforce as it considers how a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK.

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