After anger at UK's failure to screen passengers, Heathrow to trial facial recognition technology
London - Passengers at Heathrow Airport will have their temperatures checked by heat-seeking cameras as part of new measures to control the spread of coronavirus.
Trials of the facial recognition technology will take place in the immigration hall at Terminal 2 within the next two weeks before a potential airport-wide introduction. Bosses will also consider trials of "contactless" security screening and UV lighting to cleanse trays.
The airport is in talks with Border Force and Public Health England over what action can be taken if a passenger with a fever is identified. They could be asked to go into quarantine or be prevented from boarding a plane.
The trials follow anger over the UK’s failure to screen passengers. Critics say the lack of stringent checks makes a mockery of the lockdown and threatens the health of the nation.
Most countries have introduced screening at airports, but there are no tests on the 15 000 passengers continuing to arrive in the UK each day.
Ministers claim temperature checks are ineffective, but public health experts have questioned the approach and airport bosses say they are needed to restore confidence in air travel.
Earlier this week, it emerged that fewer than 300 people arriving into the UK were quarantined in the weeks leading up to the lockdown.
Meanwhile, evidence shows that an influx of travellers from virus-ravaged Italy and Spain over the Spring half-term break could have worsened the outbreak. The announcement of trials at Britain’s busiest airport will lead to questions over why screening measures were not introduced when the virus took hold months ago.