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The culture secretary has told the BBC that coronavirus testing at airports is not a “silver bullet” to stop the need for quarantine.

Oliver Dowden said testing for coronavirus was not enough because the virus can develop over time.

The boss of Heathrow said airports should be allowed to test for coronavirus to avoid the “cliff edge” of quarantine.

The travel industry is seeking ways to rescue the holiday season.

The government’s sudden change to travel advice for Spain at the weekend prompted a fresh wave of confusion and uncertainty to people’s holiday plans.

Travel firm TUI said on Wednesday it had cancelled holidays to the Balearics and Canary Islands until 4 August after the UK extended its advice against non-essential travel to Spain to include its islands.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye told the BBC’s Today programme the confusion caused by the changes to guidance over Spain showed the need for an alternative.

‘Quarantine roulette’

The company’s results, out on Wednesday, showed passengers all but stopped travel in the three months to June, falling by 96% on a year ago as global aviation came to a virtual standstill. Revenue was 85% lower than last year at £119m.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Today’s results should serve as a clarion call for the Government – the UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast. Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette.”

He said he wanted the government to work with the company on the plan and he could have testing sites set and ready “within weeks”.

But Mr Dowden quashed the idea, saying: “We are not at the point where there is a viable alternative to the 14-day quarantine.”

However, he added that all options were under review. Read more

Read also: UK Government poised to add more countries to coronavirus quarantine list ‘straight away’