Effectiveness of airport screening at detecting travellers infected with novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Euro Surveill. 2020 Feb;25(5):2000080. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.5.2000080.


We evaluated effectiveness of thermal passenger screening for 2019-nCoV infection at airport exit and entry to inform public health decision-making. In our baseline scenario, we estimated that 46% (95% confidence interval: 36 to 58) of infected travellers would not be detected, depending on incubation period, sensitivity of exit and entry screening, and proportion of asymptomatic cases. Airport screening is unlikely to detect a sufficient proportion of 2019-nCoV infected travellers to avoid entry of infected travellers.

Keywords: 2019-nCoV; airport screening; effectiveness; emerging infections; interventions; surveillance; thermal scanning.

MeSH terms

  • Air Travel*
  • Body Temperature*
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Decision Making
  • Fever / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening* / methods
  • Mass Screening* / standards
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Population Surveillance
  • Public Health

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19