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2nd September 2020 News

Last week there was a surprise announcement that Spain had been added to England’s ‘at-risk’ list due to the spread of COVID19. The announcement caused shock for many holiday makers and not only resulted TUI scrapping holidays to mainland Spain, but also EasyJet abandoning package holidays to the country. It was announced on Friday 24th July, if you arrive in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland from Spain on or after 26th July 2020 you will need to self-isolate for two weeks. Fortunately, I flew back from Spain three days before the quarantine deadline and therefore do not have to segregate myself. Within this article I will give you an insight of what the world is currently like out there with COVID19 circulating the globe and how electronics are helping suppress the virus.

Airport: e-forms, sanitiser dispenser sensors

I thought I would do a small write up of the precautions Gatwick Airport, London had in relation to supressing the virus and of course, what electronics were included. Firstly, the airport itself was extremely quiet with no queue for check in, security, or baggage drop. Throughout the airport it was always mandatory to wear a face-mask covering your nose and mouth, expect from eating and drinking. There were small sensors dotted around the airport with provided antibacterial hand sanitiser to travellers and were always in sight. Not only this, to avoid further spread of the virus, all restaurants were closed within the terminal apart from two takeaway food franchises (Starbucks and Pret a Manger) along with advised walkway directions to avoid close contact with other travellers.

It was mandatory to fill out an e-form prior to getting on the flight to confirm where we have travelled to within the last 14 days, where our holiday destination was and of course any side effects of the virus itself.

As mentioned before, the airport itself was kitted out with many hand sanitiser stations conducted by sensors with the machine. Infrared sensors detect infrared energy that is emitted by body heat. Hands are placed under the sensor which caused the infrared energy to fluctuate and triggers the pump to dispense the designated amount of sanitiser. The benefits of this is the travellers will not have to physical touch the sensor which may cause a spread in COVID19.

Spain: thermal imaging, sensors, contactless payments, lock-down tracking

Once we arrived in Spain, we were immediately greeted by an airport team who were conducting thermal imaging tests on passengers. The idea of the test is they look for heat by the way of infra-red (IR) energy waves and detect abnormal temperature that may be a symptom of the virus. However, there has been lots of controversy on whether these devices are reliable to detect the virus. According to Douglas Cameron from Law at Work, the cameras cannot detect coronavirus. A high temperature or fever is just one common symptom of the virus. Others include nausea, headaches, fatigue and loss of taste or smell. Not everyone with the virus gets a high temperature and not everyone with a high temperature is infected with coronavirus. So thermal cameras alone will miss infected people with other symptoms or no symptoms at all, known as false negatives. They will also identify people unwell with a fever for another reason, known as false positives.

Once we arrived at our hotel in Spain there was another thermal imaging check. We had to sign another form to explain where we had travelled from and how they can contact us if there was a spread of COVID-19 within the hotel. Regarding the restaurants and bars within Mallorca, Spain, they all refused cash due to the potential spread of contaminated Euros and therefore only accepted contactless payments. Like Gatwick Airport, there were dispenser sensors within most establishments along will all doors propped open or sensor based to avoid touching the entry way. In all shops we were asked to wear face masks and only touch items once we have sanitised our hands.

What can I do to prevent this affecting me?

If you are planning on travelling abroad within the next few weeks, be prepared to wear a mask for the journey and a potential quarantine when you arrive back home. Airports such as Gatwick are well equipped with the latest technology to suppress the virus along with successful rules put in place. Hopefully, this time next year the whole virus situation will be a distant memory, or we will have adapted to live with it.

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