In DepthGlobal Health

Airport screening is largely futile, research shows

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Science  13 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6483, pp. 1177-1178
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6483.1177

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Airport screening has become ubiquitous in the face of the worldwide spread of COVID-19. Authorities are taking passengers' temperatures and asking where they've been, both before they board planes and as they arrive at their destinations. But research and recent experience shows screening of departing or arriving passengers will likely do very little to slow the spread of the virus as it's exceedingly rare for screeners to intercept infected travelers. Historically, studies have shown that travelers infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola, and the H1N1 pandemic influenza slipped through airport screening. And the attempt over several recent weeks by the United States to catch those infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at airports has not kept the disease from sweeping through the country.

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