Britons cite ‘shocking’ lack of medical checks and advice after landing back in UK

The Canary

Britons returning to the UK from abroad have lambasted the “shocking” lack of testing and medical advice upon arriving back on home soil following the coronavirus outbreak.

Some passengers told the PA news agency other countries appeared to be taking the Covid-19 pandemic much more seriously, with medical questionnaires and health checks at land borders and travel terminals.

They said there was a chronic lack of similar measures upon landing in the UK, with air passengers breezing through security as though it was “a normal working day” and being left clueless about whether to go into quarantine.

Mete Coban, a 27-year-old charity pioneer and Hackney councillor, who returned to Heathrow Airport from the US on 16 March, said: “Considering just how seriously authorities were treating Covid-19 in the US, I was shocked at just how little the UK authorities seemed to care when arriving at Heathrow.

New Year’s Honours list 2020
Mete Coban said he was surprised at the lack of advice given when he returned to London during the Covid-19 outbreak (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“I think it’s completely irresponsible that we’re not at least providing guidance to people about social distancing and giving medical advice.”

Chloe Sloggett, a 24-year-old aesthetics practitioner from north London, said there were far more medical checks in place in Cambodia and Malaysia than upon her arrival in the UK.

Sloggett, who arrived at Heathrow on 28 March with her fiance Toby Hastie, said: “As we walked through Heathrow there were posters to explain dos/don’ts and signs to keep two metres’ distance, but no-one there was enforcing it.

“We had our temperature checked in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) twice and then again in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), but nothing when we landed in the UK.”

Sloggett said she was in a self-imposed isolation at home since returning.

Chloe Sloggett and her fiance Toby Hastie, from North London, returned to the UK from Cambodia on Saturday (Chloe Sloggett handout/PA)

Marc Wilson, a 33-year-old postman from Southampton, said he was similarly confused by a lack of advice on what to do upon his arrival from Guatemala via Mexico and the US.

Wilson, who landed at Heathrow on 29 March, said: “In the Americas, I was checked at every land border, every flight, I had doctors asking me questions.

“I landed at Heathrow and there was no advice or anything. I couldn’t see any answers online whether I had to go in quarantine or not.”

Coronavirus
Marc Wilson said he was given health checks throughout his travels in central and North America – but none upon landing in the UK (Marc Wilson handout/PA)

The Department of Health said the advice for all Britons, whether returning to the UK or not, was the same – to stay at home and only leave if essential.

However, other countries have introduced strict quarantine measures for those entering the country.

This includes in the US and New Zealand, where travellers must isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival.

Nick Russell, who is due to return to the UK from Auckland in the coming days, said confusion reigned over whether he and his wife would be subject to quarantine.

Russell, from Berkshire, said: “We have very little idea what happens when we arrive at Heathrow.

“Will we be escorted to some compulsory 14-days quarantine facility? Can we be met by a friend to take us home? What can we do when we arrive home?

“There are simply no written answers we can find on the Government website.”

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  • Show Comments
    1. We have always had a no-checks open-door policy to Covid-19 at airports, including arrivals from Milan, etc. Yet this is not a topic in the corporate media. Thank you Canary.

      I have a couple of suggestions as to why our government is systematically failing to implement reasonable measures:

      (1) Right-wing ideology for 40 years pushing individualism. If we think as individuals, we don’t think as a society. If this is the core of how you think about the world and how it works, frame your decisions by affect on career, etc., then you tend not to consider what can be achieved by working together with others. Conversely, if you see Britain as a community, you can see policies which rely on collective action and behaviour, on systems and frameworks which solve problems and improve our lives, i.e. human development.

      I think the government failures we are observing are more a consequence of individualism (capitalism) than the failure of individuals (incompetence).

      (2) The corporate media tells us what to believe and to ignore social media. Should we think for ourselves, individually and collectively? hear a range of ideas and decide which have merit? debate those ideas? No, just read and listen, then accept (compliance) or reject (cynicism), don’t think critically (development). This also applies to corporate journalists themselves (if they are to remain in post). Our ability to think critically, our human development, is being suppressed by this culture.

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