With the global reported case numbers for coronavirus exceeding 18 million, airports around the world are figuring out how to accept travelers while limiting exposure for their own citizens. For some, that effort is to test inbound travelers for the coronavirus on arrival.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testing is important in identifying people who may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and may spread the virus unknowingly.
Many airports are doing mandatory or optional coronavirus testing. Others are requiring travelers to show a negative coronavirus test on arrival. At 15 U.S. airports where travelers returning from restricted countries must enter, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is working with the CDC to provide additional health screening and in some cases, testing, for inbound travelers coming from abroad.
Here are the airports around the world that are leading the way for coronavirus testing for international travelers.
In April, Hong Kong’s department of health arranged for its international airport to test all inbound travelers.
“All asymptomatic inbound travellers are required to take shuttle bus from Hong Kong International Airport immediately to the temporary specimen collection centre at AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) to collect deep throat saliva samples in accordance with the instructions and submit the samples to the DH personnel at the venue for conducting COVID-19 test,” the Hong Kong airport website says. “They are also mandated to wait for test results at a designated location.”
The Istanbul Airport (IGA) has opened a special coronavirus testing center for both departing and arriving travelers. Turkey’s state-run media reported that the center can conduct 38,000 to 40,000 tests per day.
Fatih Mere, IGA’s operations control director, said test results will be delivered to passengers within two hours and that travelers who test positive for the coronavirus on arrival to Turkey will be referred to a hospital.
Tokyo’s airports have been testing international arrivals since April, but Nikkei Asian Review reported that Tokyo’s two major airports have significantly cut the wait time for results. Now, inbound travelers will receive results in about an hour.
The new development has helped Haneda and Narita airports nearly double testing capacity.
“With the expansion of arrivals of international travelers, we will bring Haneda’s testing capacity to 3,800 a day from 2,000 tests,” said Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s minister of health.
The Osaka airport will also use the same testing method. Japan will be able to conduct 10,000 tests between the three airports by September.
Last week, Reuters reported that Berlin’s Tegel airport started widespread coronavirus testing, and other German airports will be following suit soon. Germany’s busiest airport, Frankfurt, has been offering optional coronavirus testing for weeks.
Jens Spahn, Germany’s health minister, warned that negative coronavirus results do not mean a traveler is safe from the virus; the test result only serves as a “snapshot in time,” DW.com reported.