Hong Kong’s screening system for airport arrivals holds lessons for travel industry
A requirement forcing all air passengers arriving at Hong Kong to be tested for the coronavirus will remain in place going forward, a leading city health official said, with experts predicting the practice will become standard at airports around the world as the aviation industry adapts to a new normal once the pandemic recedes.
The aggressive strategy was aimed at containing a rising number of coronavirus infections as residents returned from overseas. Although health authorities have repeatedly warned about a local resurgence of the pandemic, the city has seen the number of daily infections steadily drop this month, even falling into the single digits over the past few days. Nearly all recent cases have come from overseas.
Hong Kong’s program is being closely watched as the airline industry’s body prepares to meet health, civil aviation and airport authorities in the coming weeks. The International Air Transport Association recognizes that such comprehensive screening will become the new normal to ensure the virus does not resurface as global air travel resumes once the pandemic is brought under control.
Future measures could have wide implications on how people travel. The airline industry sees COVID-19 tests and temperature readings as a preflight check possibility. Sanitizing gel, masks and social distancing once onboard will also be explored.