Rome airports introduces coronavirus tests for all departing travellers

Those who test positive must quarantine in Rome

Joanna Whitehead
Monday 07 September 2020 13:24
Coronavirus in numbers

Italian health officials have announced plans to test every passenger departing from Rome airport for Covid-19.

The move follows optimistic results from a pilot trial in which 25,000 visitors arriving from countries with high infection rates were swabbed.

Passengers from Spain, Malta, Greece and Croatia have been tested since mid-August after Italian residents returning from these countries tested positive for the virus, triggering a rise in new cases in Italy.

Under the plan, travellers visiting Italy who test positive before flying home would be denied boarding and made to remain in Rome and quarantine, with accommodation provided.

A spokesperson for the health authority in Lazio, the home region of the Italian capital, told The Times: “They would be quarantined until they test negative.

“Before flying, people will stop off at our airport drive-in test centre and get a result in 30 minutes. So, instead of arriving an hour before a flight, you come two hours before,” they said.

“Our ambition is that everyone flies out with a ticket and negative result in their pocket.

“If you are negative you fly, if you are positive you don’t,” they said.

Tests on departing passengers will begin this month on flights from Rome to Milan.

Italy has seen a steep increase in the number of coronavirus cases, with 1,695 new cases reported on Saturday.

Five passengers arriving from Spain on Friday tested positive for the virus, taking the number of new infections at Rome’s Fiumicino and Ciampino airports to 203.

Those who had tested positive were placed in quarantine facilities.

Closer to home, the shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, has called for a “robust testing regime in airports” in a bid to eradicate the need for two-week quarantines for those returning from green list countries.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Sunday that testing policies for incoming travellers to the UK was “under review”, and that testing was “no silver bullet” and could not reduce the need to quarantine completely.

Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Raab said: “…the idea that one test in an airport could resolve the quarantine issues…we couldn't safely do that. We're not going to let up on a measure which is crucial for keeping the virus under control”.

Tests on travellers to the UK eight days after arrival are currently being considered.

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