Could a 20-minute coronavirus test replace 14-day quarantines for travellers?

TripFalcon June 04, 2020

Last Update: 2020-06-09 14:40:33

With countries all over the world beginning to open their borders, the conversation has inevitably turned to how freedom of movement can be implemented once again without resulting in a spike of COVID-19 cases. While nations have announced different rules about mandatory quarantines for incoming travellers, a new test is being explored that takes just 20 minutes and could avoid the need for people to go into isolation for 14 days.

The UK government has announced the beginning of trials for a new quick-result test that can have results processed on site within 20-minutes, according to The Guardian. The test is done with a swab, and results do not need to be sent off to a laboratory, saving a lot of time. The tests will be trialled at hospitals and A&E departments to begin with. 

The 20-minute tests are being trialed at the moment in the UK © Paul Biris / Getty Images
The 20-minute tests are being trialed at the moment in the UK © Paul Biris / Getty Images

If proven to be effective, it could be that people due to embark on journeys could get a clear test result before arriving in their destination, removing the need for quarantine measures. At present different countries have outlined different rules about what travellers must do upon arrival and who borders are open to. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK has also secured up to ten million antibody tests, a different test that detects if someone has previously had the virus.

Other countries have announced tests for arrivals with a view of avoiding 14-day quarantines. Iceland recently unveiled plans to welcome international travellers no later than 15 June, with systems being put in place for those arriving to be tested at the airport in an effort to forgo self-imposed two-week isolation. People travelling through Vienna International Airport can currently take a test costing €190, and upon a negative result they can skip the required 14-day quarantine. Emirates became the first airline to explore the use of rapid tests for travellers before boarding, while Spain will trial a digital health passport via a dedicated app for travellers bound for the Canary Islands. Madeira has said that it will make free tests available to travellers when it re-opens in July.

Nations are also discussing “air bridges”, agreements between two nations that would enable travel between both places without quarantines.

Source: lonelyplanet