Covid Air Travel Restrictions Failed to Keep the Virus out of the U.K.


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Image: Steve Parsons (AP)

It seems where at a point where Covid infections are somewhat slowing down (or, maybe, we’ve just grown desensitized to them). And while the virus blindsided the world, some measures were lifted too soon, came too late, or didn’t work at all. Take Covid travel restrictions. United Press International (UPI) reports that Covid travel restrictions in the U.K. failed as wastewater samples from arriving flights show.

Welsh scientists took wastewater samples from flights that landed at three U.K. airports — Heathrow, Edinburgh, and Bristol — in the spring of 2022, specifically dates between March 8 and March 31. Samples were also taken of wastewater from the airports themselves. The results may have shocked some.

Covid was found in nearly all flights that had landed in the country, as well as in wastewater from the terminals. So what happened? U.K. officials let the countries guard down.

On March 182022, within the timeframe that scientists tested wastewater samples, U.K. officials lifted the requirement for unvaccinated passengers that said they had to get tested two days before their flights. What’s worse is that a study conducted on 2,000 people who boarded a flight into the U.K. found that some 23 percent said they had taken their flights while feeling ill. Davey Jones, a professor in the School of Natural Sciences at Bangor University in Wales called the Covid measures a failure. “That might have been because people developed symptoms after testing negative; or were evading the system, or for some other reason. But it showed that there was essentially a failure of border control in terms of COVID surveillance.”

But it’s not all bad though, as one microbiologist who worked on the study, Kata Farkas, said this all helps and can prepare scientists and officials prepare for the next outbreak. “This is about getting an overall picture to help U.K. health systems to be prepared, or, if possible, have an advance warning, of emerging diseases,” she said.


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