A pattern of passengers travelling from China into London’s Heathrow Airport shall be invited to take a PCR take a look at for COVID-19 on arrival. These exams will assist us to raised perceive any variants which may be current in any optimistic circumstances.

Why are we solely testing arrivals from China?

China is at the moment experiencing its largest and most critical COVID-19 wave because the begin of the pandemic. This coincides with China easing a few of the border measures it had put in place through the pandemic, which had included limits on the numbers of passengers permitted on worldwide flights.

There are far fewer publicly accessible COVID-19 genomes shared from China in comparison with the UK. The chance to hold out genomic testing on samples supplied by a few of the incoming travellers is due to this fact necessary, as it’s going to assist us to raised perceive what COVID-19 variants are circulating in people arriving to the UK from China.

Why are we testing a pattern of individuals?

The exams being provided on arrival are for surveillance functions solely and are supposed to assist us construct a extra full image of the COVID-19 scenario worldwide. We solely want to check a pattern of travellers (we’re inviting 20% of arrivals to participate) to achieve a consultant image that’s helpful for this goal.

Whereas the arrival exams is not going to have an effect on particular person passengers’ onward journeys, anybody travelling to England from mainland China from 5th January 2023 will even be required to take a COVID-19 test earlier than they depart and should present proof of a unfavourable end result earlier than being permitted to board a flight.

Ought to we be apprehensive about new variants?

UKHSA already has a number of techniques in place to detect and monitor the unfold and prevalence of COVID-19 variants at house, and our knowledge is shared rapidly to assist assist well being safety efforts worldwide.

There may be nothing within the publicly available data to recommend that there are any new variants at the moment circulating in China, however the measures we’re putting in at Heathrow will additional improve our surveillance capabilities and assist us to identify variants of concern rapidly if any do come up.

Find out how to defend your self and others

Vaccination continues to be one of the best ways to guard your self in opposition to turning into severely unwell with COVID-19, so it’s as necessary as ever to take up any doses while you’re eligible. In the event you’ve been provided a booster this winter and haven’t but come ahead, there may be nonetheless time to book an appointment.

As we suggested final April as a part of Dwelling with COVID, it is best to attempt to keep house when you may have signs of respiratory infections together with flu and COVID-19 and in the event you do should exit, put on a face masking. There was no change on this recommendation which stays in place as a smart precautionary measure if you find yourself unwell.

It’s also possible to assist to guard your self and others by masking your nostril and mouth while you cough and sneeze, washing your fingers often and cleansing surfaces resembling door handles and light-weight switches.

It’s best to notably keep away from assembly folks at increased danger of turning into significantly unwell from COVID-19, particularly these with a weakened immune system. Full steerage on dwelling safely with respiratory infections might be discovered here.