CARDIFF – Following multiple outbreaks amongst travelers in Europe, Cardiff Airport (CWL) is weighing the possibility of testing all arriving passengers for COVID-19. Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Getting reportedly began considering this possibility after infected travelers returned from the Greek island of Zante.

Leisure travel has made a comeback in Europe as COVID-19 worries begin to cool. As a result, popular destinations among travelers have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases. A combination of alcohol and nightclubs is the culprit, as intoxicated party-goers are less likely to follow social distancing and mask mandates.

Milan Airport Authorities testing people’s temperature on 6 Feb 2020. PHOTO: Emergenzia Coronavirus

Self-Isolation Not Enough

The Welsh government has requested the self-isolation of all passengers returning from the Greek Island of Zante. Additionally, they will be offered COVID-19 antigen tests within 48 hours of return, and a second test after 8 days.

However, these methods are temporary until more immediate procedures can be put into place. TUI has also canceled a number of flights to resorts attracting young party-goers.

Despite the previous measures, the Welsh Health Ministry is racing to enact more immediate procedures, in what the Ministry called “a dynamic situation.” Airport testing will surely cause longer wait times, but “it could protect passengers, their families, and communities in the best way,” Vaughan Getting told BBC News Radio.

Man receiving rapid coronavirus test. PHOTO: Raimond Spekking, Wikipedia Commons

Possible Solutions

While a major UK airport has yet to enact effective rapid-testing procedures, it is surely on the horizon. London Heathrow Airport (LHR) trialed passenger rapid-testing with 250 staff members earlier this week. The method included the use of machine learning microscopes and claimed to deliver results in 30 seconds. The results of the trial are still unclear, but the overall process is encouraging.

Munich Airport (MUC) already features COVID-19 testing centers, which are a requirement for travelers arriving from certain countries. These tests are not immediate, however, but help reduce self-isolation periods from 14 days to as little as 48 hours. While imperfect, this method largely reduces the spread of the virus from a potentially infected arriving passenger.

Airline officials remain hopeful rapid-testing will eventually replace quarantine measures, persuading government officials to ease travel restrictions. As a result, an uptick in passenger numbers which are desperately needed for the struggling airline industry.

For CWL, mass rapid-testing may arrive sooner rather than later.

Featured Image: Cardiff Airport Terminal. PHOTO: Lewis Clarke, Wikipedia Commons.