Coronavirus testing at airports may give a “false sense of security”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, after suggestions it could be used to cut quarantine times for travellers.
Mr Johnson said testing on arrival would only identify 7% of virus cases.
It comes after a senior Tory MP backed calls from the struggling aviation sector to introduce airport testing.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said testing could cut quarantine times to “less than five days”.
But speaking during a visit to Solihull, the prime minister rejected Mr Davis’s comments, saying: “The quarantine system that we have has got to be an important part of our repertoire, of our toolbox, in fighting Covid.”
Mr Johnson said while he understood “the difficulties” the airline industry was facing, “93% of the time you could have a real false sense of security, a false sense of confidence when you arrive and take a test”.
People entering the UK face 14 days of self-isolation unless they are travelling from countries that are exempt – a decision determined by the four nations’ separate authorities.
The prime minister also insisted the UK was “overwhelmingly… proceeding as one” with regards to quarantine rules, after his transport secretary admitted that different rules across the four nations were “confusing”.
Earlier, Grant Shapps defended the decision not to impose restrictions on people entering England from Greece and Portugal – despite Scotland and Wales deciding to do so.
Mr Shapps said the difference in quarantine rules was similar to the way lockdown had been applied across the UK.
“It is similar, unfortunately, with the quarantining where we look at the data and then we do speak, but, I’m afraid, quite often come to slightly different outcomes, which I appreciate is confusing for people,” he said.
It comes as a further 10 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, according to the latest figures.
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