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No plans for Covid quick tests at Helsinki Airport, THL expert says

Some European airports offer passengers coronavirus tests to possibly avoid mandatory two-week quarantines.

Kuvassa on suu- ja nenäsuojainta käyttävä Finnairin työntekijä.
Finnair worker wearing a face mask at Helsinki Airport last week. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Carrying out coronavirus tests on passengers at Helsinki Airport would not significantly increase air traffic safety, nor prevent the spread of Covid-19, according to Jussi Sane, leading expert at the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

For a fee of 190 euros, international air passengers in Vienna, Austria are being offered the chance to take molecular-biological Covid-19 tests, in an aim to possibly avoid mandatory two-week stints in quarantine.

The test results are reached in about three hours. If the results turn out negative, passengers are not required to head into 14-day periods of isolation.

But according to Sane, there are no such plans in Finland.

"There has been no talk of testing at airports. At least we haven't had any concrete plans to do so," the epidemiologist said, who added that testing incoming and outgoing passengers would be inefficient.

"There are a lot of problems involved. We've analysed the data collected during symptom monitoring [of people] at the airport and at land border crossings, and very few [positive] cases are detected. It also takes a huge amount of resources," he explained, noting that EU health authorities consider airport testing to be unnecessary at this stage.

"The European Centre for Disease Control has also recently published a document about this topic, highlighting the fact that airport screening is fairly ineffective," Sane said.

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