Entry Screening at Airport as a COVID-19 Surveillance Tool: Evaluation of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport in Kerala, India

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

2 Airport Health Screening and Assistant Surgeon, District Medical Office, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

3 Physician Quality Improvements Lead, Modern Hospitals, Kodungallur, Kerala, India

4 Airport Health Screening, District Medical Office, Thiruvananthapuram and Junior Consultant in Paediatrics, Taluk Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India



Introduction: As part of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) control strategies, entry screening was established at International airports. An assessment of the screening system will inform decision-making for improving entry screening for infectious diseases.
Methods: Assessment of entry screening at Thiruvananthapuram international airport done during pre and post-lockdown phases. Observation, interviews, and secondary data analysis were the methods employed. The number of passengers screened, their symptom profile, the yield of screening, actions taken, staff pattern, perceptions, training, and infection control practices assessed. Chi-square test and t test were used for testing significance.
Results: Out of the 46139 passengers screened pre-lockdown, 297 (0.64%) had symptoms, 23 (0.05%) were positive in thermal screening. Six (2%) among them tested positive for COVID-19. Out of the 44 263 passengers screened post lockdown, from May to July 2020, 671 (1.5%) were symptomatic, and 12 (0.03%) were positive in thermal screening. COVID-19 was confirmed in 45 (6.7 %) patients identified through the screening. With the surge in cases, the proportion of passengers opting for institutional quarantine increased significantly (P < 0.001). None of the staff contracted the disease. Infection control practices followed by them were optimal.
Conclusion: Though the yield of thermal and symptom screening is low, entry screening is an opportunity to identify travelers at risk of COVID-19 infection. In addition, it helps in raising awareness to ensure quarantine and guides public health authorities in preventing disease spread to the community.