The effectiveness of screening travellers during times of international disease outbreak is contentious, especially as the reduction in the risk of disease importation can be very small. Border screening typically consists of travellers being thermally scanned for signs of fever and/or completing a survey declaring any possible symptoms prior to admission to their destination country; while more thorough testing typically exists, these would generally prove more disruptive to deploy. In this paper, we describe a simple Monte Carlo based model that incorporates the epidemiology of COVID-19 to investigate the potential decrease in risk of disease importation that might be achieved by requiring travellers to undergo screening upon arrival during the current pandemic. This is a purely theoretical study to investigate the maximum impact that might be attained by deploying a test or testing programme simply at point of entry, through which we may assess such action in the real world as a method of decreasing risk of importation. We therefore assume ideal conditions such as 100% compliance among travellers and the use of a “perfect” test. In addition to COVID-19, we also apply the presented model to simulated outbreaks of influenza, SARS and Ebola for comparison. Our model only considers screening implemented at airports, being the predominant method of international travel. Primary results showed that in the best-case scenario, screening at point of entry may detect a maximum of 8.8% of travellers infected with COVID-19, compared to 34.8.%, 9.7% and 3.0% for travellers infected with influenza, SARS and Ebola respectively. While results appear to indicate that screening is more effective at preventing disease ingress when the disease in question has a shorter average incubation period, our results suggest that screening at point of entry alone does not represent a sufficient method to adequately protect a nation from the importation of COVID-19 cases.

Fuente: Epidemiology & Infection