Focus on lack of airport checks as infected passenger travels from London to Porto

Focus today is on the lack of airport checks in Portugal as travellers fly in from all over the world.

In Porto – where the first infected passengers arrived from Milan four months ago – yet another Covid-positive flyer has entered national territory unimpeded.

SIC television news stresses that the Portuguese citizen knew he was infected, and flew anyway.

He arrived at the city’s Sá Carneiro airport on Monday and is now interned at Porto’s São João hospital.

The ease with which this man ‘hoodwinked’ authorities – and put fellow passengers at risk – has shone unwelcome light on yet another apparent ‘wrinkle’ in the system.

Talking to SIC from São João Hospital, director of A&E Cristina Marujo agreed it wasn’t the right thing to have done when health authorities the world over are telling infected people to ‘self-isolate’.

But as the man remains in hospital, it seems clear that authorities will have no way of tracing the people, or indeed possibly even the airline staff, with whom he travelled.

SIC’s reporter interviewed flyers as they were leaving the airport today, and they said there had been no ‘controls’ of any sort, either when they left London earlier, or when they arrived in Porto.

Yes passengers are asked to wear face-masks and keep the requisite 2 metre distance from each other, and yes, there are machines to check body temperatures – but there is nothing beyond this: people are flying in and disappearing off into their lives with very little chance of being traced if necessary.

Bruno Fernandes – a young man who arrived in Porto from the UK – said that he and his partner had actually filled out a Passenger Locator Card, but no-one this end had asked for it.

This is not the first case of apparently slack follow-through. The Resident has heard from at least one reader that a family member travelled to the Algarve recently on a flight with no UK airport checks for temperature abnormality, no onboard social distancing and no collection of the landing form, duly completed, giving tracking information.

As São João’s A&E director stresses, anyone with a temperature can take a paracetamol two hours before flying and register a ‘normal temperature’ at the boarding gates – thus temperature checks would seem superfluous. But this failure to collect ‘landing forms with tracking information’ that could be vital cannot be so easily explained away.

Ricardo Mexia, president of the national association of public health doctors, told SIC that this latest case of someone knowingly bringing the virus in through an airport, should be taken up by SEF borders agency.

Calling it a “glaring violation” of health protocols, it doesn’t change the fact that these glitches are happening – and, according to SIC, DGS health officials admit they are happening “frequently”.

Ricardo Mexia went as far as to suggest that all flights bringing people in from the UK, the US and Brazil -where the virus is still cutting a major swathe – should be cancelled or passengers put under mandatory quarantine.

With the whole issue of flying and quarantines already a hot topic, SIC concluded its disturbing report stressing that neither ANA airports authority nor the DGS health authority would confirm how many infected passengers have arrived in Portugal through Porto’s Sá Carneiro airport.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

Photo: https://www.ana.pt