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Travellers returning from risk areas: Mandatory coronavirus tests have begun at Cologne–Bonn Airport

Travellers returning from risk areas : Mandatory coronavirus tests have begun at Cologne–Bonn Airport

Swab on arrival: Since the weekend, travellers must be tested for coronavirus after returning from risk areas. The airports in NRW are prepared, to avoid chaos at the end of the holidays.

At Duesseldorf and Cologne–Bonn airports, the compulsory coronavirus testing of travellers returning from risk areas got swiftly underway over the weekend. In Düsseldorf alone, the largest airport in North Rhine-Westphalia, about 60 incoming flights from risk areas were expected during the last holiday weekend – with about 8,000 passengers.

The majority of the returning travellers came from Turkey, said an airport spokesperson on Sunday. Additional flights were expected from Montenegro, Pristina (Kosovo) and Barcelona, among other destinations. Hardly any queues formed at the testing points on Sunday either, the spokesperson said. Waiting times at the swabbing booths had been short.

Tents were set up at the long-distance bus station at Cologne-Bonn Airport, where returning travellers could have nose/throat swabs taken. According to a dpa reporter, they came in batches after the arrival of the respective planes, for example from Morocco or Turkey, and were tested quickly by four doctors who were on duty. According to an airport spokeswoman, bus travellers returning from high-risk areas can also be tested in the tents. The city of Cologne wants to publish figures on Monday concerning how many tests were carried out at Cologne–Bonn airport this weekend.

Test sites in the airport's security area in Düsseldorf had already been created since last week and these will be increased once again. The number of registration points is to be doubled from six to twelve and the number of swab booths is to be increased from 6 to 14.

Air travellers will have 72 hours after their return to have a coronavirus test. They can also have themselves tested in doctors' surgeries or other places, but must remain in domestic quarantine until the results are available, according to a statutory order issued by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU).

The test centres at Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Münster/Osnabrück airports are organised by the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztliche Vereinigung), and doctors and medical staff will take the swabs. At Cologne–Bonn Airport, the tests are organised by the St John's Ambulance brigade (Johanniter Unfallhilfe) and the city.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has compiled a list of countries that are considered to be risk areas, which currently includes about 130 countries, from Egypt to the USA. From the EU, the list currently includes Luxembourg, the Belgian province of Antwerp, and the Spanish regions of Aragón, Catalonia, and Navarra, as well as parts of Romania and Bulgaria. According to the authorities, the obligation to test does not apply when travelling through a risk area without a stopover.

(Original text, dpa; translation John Chandler)