Dr Hilary Jones had stern advice for those believing that Heathrow airport’s coronavirus testing centre could “replace quarantine”.
With the new testing facility inside the Terminal 2 building allowing travellers entering the UK to be tested for Covid-19 on arrival, there’s hopes it could reduce the amount of time holidaymakers need to quarantine.
But Dr Hilary was quick to encourage holidaymakers to “be realistic” before thinking the test is a game-changer.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Friday, he warned why the test might not reduce the 14-day quarantine period, and told people not to be reliant on it.
He told GMB hosts Kate Garraway and Alex Beresford that it might not even mean a lesser self-isolation period, while warning that having just the one test at the airport might give false negatives.
Hilary explained: “So everyone is getting excited about, ‘Oh look, we can go on holiday and come back and we can reduce the period of quarantine, if we’re asked to self-isolate, because of this new testing at airports.
“It’s Terminal 2, they’ve got this air-side testing centre… the aviation chief is saying this will seriously reduce the amount of time people have to self-isolate for, but will it?
“Let’s look at it. If people don’t want to self-isolate for the 14 days when they come back from countries, they can book one online.
“The test will cost you £150, which they will have on arrival.
“That test is done, but of course a lot of people are asymptomatic. They may have a false negative test, so a second test five to eight days later is being suggested.
“If you have a second test it will cost another £150, the second test will be five to eight days later and the test may take two days to process, so it could only save you four days from quarentine. How many people are going to do that?”
Hilary went on: “I don’t want to put a damper on this but I think we need to get realistic.
“If you only test on arrival, you only pick up 7 percent of people carrying Covid-19. If you do a second test then it’s 85 percent of cases, and after eight days it’s 96 percent.
“Eight days and a result might take two days, you’re only gonna have four days and so it’s not the game-changer it’s being sold as and I think people need to remember that.
He also said people were disobeying quarantine rules, but that a low amount of people were being fined as a result.
Hilary encouraged people not to get complacent, amid fears of a second wave later this year.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.