Screening travelers for infectious diseases

Added May 3, 2020

Citation: Mouchtouri VA, Christoforidou EP, An der Heiden M, et al. Exit and entry screening practices for infectious diseases among travelers at points of entry: looking for evidence on public health impact. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2019; 16(23): 4638

What is this? Entry and exit screening measures at airports, ports and ground crossings might be used to attempt to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Existing research into such strategies for other infectious diseases may provide important information for policy makers to help with this.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for reports of worldwide practices, implementation of guidelines, experiences, structures, processes and evaluation results for national routine or ad hoc entry or exit screening of travelers as part of a country’s response to a global health emergency. They restricted their search to articles published in peer-reviewed journals or national and international organizations’ publications in English, German, Dutch or Greek between 2003 and 2018. They included 82 scientific articles, 6 documents/reports from public health agencies of countries and 26 guidelines/reports from international organizations which reported screening measures for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Influenza Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, Dengue fever, Zika virus disease, Chikungunya infection, and Ebola virus disease.

What was found: The implementation of screening measures should be examined on a case-by-case basis after considering the disease and outbreak characteristics, the country situation and available resources; but the effects are uncertain.

Entry screening measures may be an opportunity for raising awareness and educating travelers, collecting contact details for contact tracing and preserving public confidence.

Exit screening measures might discourage ill or exposed persons from traveling and should be applied along with other measures including information strategies, epidemiological investigation, contact tracing, vaccination and quarantine.


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