Carried out last October by Bangor University along with researchers at the University of Western Australia and Cardiff University, the survey sought to understand behaviour, in order for governments to develop policies and procedures most likely to be effective.
It also considered whether it may be feasible to monitor on-board waste-water for SARS-CoV-2, and reached the conclusion that this would only work for long-haul flights.
Surveying over 2,000 participants across the UK, the researchers found poor overall knowledge of the range of COVID-19 symptoms, especially among younger men. This suggests that many individuals could unknowingly return to the UK with Covid-19.
Prof Davey Jones of Bangor University, who led the work commented:
“Our report to the Welsh Government, based on the UK national survey, supports the imposition of stricter guidelines across the UK to ensure complete compliance with point-of-departure testing and stricter quarantining on arrival for UK citizens returning from overseas.
The low personal risk perceived by young males also suggested that they may pose a higher risk of transporting SARS-CoV-2 back to the UK.
“In addition, we recommend that the stricter guidelines be targeted at younger age groups where the risk of non-compliance is greater,” he added.
The survey also revealed that 21% of the respondents would travel back to the UK, while experiencing early symptoms of COVID-19.
In addition, many also expressed the opinion that they would not fully comply with government self-isolation guidelines on return.
Davey Jones, Professor of Soil and Environmental Science, concluded:
“This is not great news for those eager to go on holiday abroad, but based on risk-management, would provide the best way forward to avoid future waves of infection.”
Commenting on the news that the UK government is introducing mandatory 10 day hotel quarantine for travellers from the UK’s travel ban list from 15 February, Professor Jones commented:
"I am in complete agreement of putting foreign nationals in hotels. The key question is whether we should put returning UK nationals in hotels – I think we should do this based on the evidence available.”
Attitude survey does not bode well for would be air travellers
The current UK government guidelines and policies are unlikely to prevent frequent entry of SARS-COVID-19 into the UK according to the results of a survey of people’s understanding of COVID-19 symptoms, and their attitudes and likely behaviours related to air travel during the pandemic.