By Fatmata Jengbe
It has now become apparent that African countries are gradually easing air travel restrictions and it is advisable that these countries including Sierra Leone must continue to institute and observe all the necessary precautionary measures to prevent passengers and other individuals from contracting the virus and break its chain of transmission.
As a result of both air travel restrictions many citizens choose not to travel as indicative in low traveller and in-airport volumes. This allows for a reasonably seamless process when it comes to compulsory COVID-19 screening of travellers arriving at, or departing from airports.
However, as restrictions are further relaxed over the coming months, there would be a spike in air traveller numbers. This poses a risk as the new screening measures lead to longer traveller check-in and arrivals processes, and therefore, larger groups of people gathering within often confined airport spaces.
The prevalence of viral spread is increased in crowded indoor spaces, as well as through touch of contaminated surfaces (World Health Organisation), and airports have both; large groups of intersecting people and, multiple common physical touchpoints.
Global aviation security experts strongly recommend that airport authorities and Governmental decision-making bodies act with urgency in analysing and implementing passenger screening, movement and health control systems preceding the predictable surge in air travel that will take place as travel bans decrease globally over the coming weeks and months. Speedy and decisive action will make all the difference in curbing (or neglecting to curb) future waves of viral outbreaks.
It is imperative for Sierra Leone to move swiftly in developing and deploying highly efficient traffic management systems to streamline in-airport traveller movement, while ensuring that proper epidemic screening and control protocols are in place. Companies such as Securiport – a global leader in intelligence civil aviation security solutions have been at the forefront of the development and deployment of epidemic control systems to combat the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 and Ebola. Securiport focuses on addressing current and potential security challenges, particularly those related to air travel. Such technologies could go a long way in making air travel much safer for all of us.
Automation, specifically technology-driven solutions, forms an integral part of such a system. This includes automated border control mechanisms such as electronic gates and self-service traveller stations capable of processing passenger data quickly and accurately. Integrating these checkpoints with existing Epidemic Control Systems (ECS) that facilitate early warning and monitoring, as well as an alert system that flags high-risk passengers will help determine which travellers should be screened more thoroughly. This is beneficial from a time management and health safety point of view.
Touch-free technology is pivotal in reducing the spread of the virus within the airport environment. Across industries, research shows that the use of contactless biometrics is on the rise. The Global Contactless Biometrics Technology Marketed expected to reach $18.6 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.1% during this period. For airports, the use of high-reliability touch-free multimodal biometrics like iris and face recognition software systems is both fast and effective for contactless passenger verification. Iris scanning means that passengers will not have to pull down their masks for identity verification (as is current practice). It makes sense to pair these technologies with current health screening methods such as temperature checks by incorporating thermal monitoring of travellers.
It is important to note however, that automation does not in any way replace the necessary health and safety protocols such as hand sanitising and social distancing. It does exponentially decrease the spread of the virus by drastically reducing the number of physical touchpoints, and by avoiding the accumulation of travellers at COVID-19 screening or passenger verification checkpoints.
In another important development SECURIPORT has partnered with Confirm Science for Rapid COVID Testing Kits.
Confirm Bio Sciences, a leading provider of comprehensive medical screening tools and solutions, and Securiport, a global leader in the design and implementation of civil aviation security, border management, advanced identification, and threat assessment systems have announced that the companies have partnered to offer Confirm BioSciences’ rapid COVID-19 testing kits through Securiport’s Epidemic Control System (ECS).
It could be recalled that in 2014, the ECS version 1.0 was developed by Securiport in collaboration with local authorities to combat the Ebola crisis that struck West Africa.
That was done by applying cutting-edge biometric technology and proprietary software, the ECS version 4.0, is now able to manage COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
The system can act as a stand-alone application or it can be integrated with any existing passenger information system.
ECS pre-registers, processes and tracks people who may have been exposed to the virus to curb the pandemic.
The partnership with Confirm BioSciences expands ECS capabilities by including high-quality, FDA Emergency Use Authorized COVID-19 rapid testing kits from a company that earned ISO 13485:2016 certification for its quality management system to handle medical devices and related services.
“Our goal is to help our Government clients meet 21st century security and safety challenges with the best technologies and tools available,” said Dr. Enrique Segura, President and CEO of Securiport.
Dr Enrique Segura continued that, their partnership with Confirm Bio Sciences is a great fit during these challenging times as both companies share a strong commitment to the communities they serve.
That the partnership enables Securiport to provide FDA approved products and that they are pleased to partner with Confirm Bio Sciences to make these high-quality tests available to their clients around the world.
Confirm Bio Sciences offers one of the few readily available, U.S.-sourced coronavirus antibody testing products that can be exported from the U.S. for international use.
The rapid COVID-19 testing kits ranked high in a serological test validation project conducted by the National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease updated on May 28, 2020. Researchers noted that the testing kits offered by Confirm Bio Sciences are highly specific for coronavirus antibodies, effectively screening out false positives.
“We’re excited about working with a world-class security solutions and services organization like Securiport to help control the spread of the virus on a global scale,” said Albert Berger, CEO, Confirm Bio Sciences.