EU urges anti-Covid tests for passengers coming from China

EU member states are “strongly encouraged” to require all travelers coming from China to present a negative Covid test dating back less than 48 hours before their departure, according to an agreement reached on Wednesday between the Twenty-Seven. During a meeting of experts intended to develop a coordinated response to the explosion of contamination in China, the Europeans also agreed on other recommendations that it will be up to each member state to implement, indicated in a press release from the Swedish EU Presidency.

States are thus “encouraged” to complete the negative test required on boarding in China with “random tests” on arrival on European soil, with “sequencing of positive results” in order to identify possible new variants. The Twenty-Seven are also encouraged to “test the wastewater from airports hosting international flights and that of planes arriving from China”, with genomic sequencing.

The return of the “protective” mask

Finally, the member states agreed to “recommend that all passengers on flights to and from China” wear a protective mask, according to the conclusions of this meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. These conclusions are considered as definitively adopted, as they are recommendations that are not legally binding.

The Europeans agreed to take stock again of the situation and the measures introduced “by mid-January”. Beijing ended its draconian “zero Covid” policy in early December, leading to an explosion in the number of contaminations in the Chinese population, and will lift its quarantine obligations for travelers arriving from abroad on Sunday.

Worried about the lack of transparency on the Chinese figures and fearing the appearance of new variants, the Europeans had initially reacted in dispersed order, three of the Member States of the EU (Italy, Spain, France) deciding unilaterally to impose testing on arrival or on boarding for travelers coming from China.

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China on Tuesday condemned these restrictions imposed by a growing number of countries around the world, warning that it could take “countermeasures” in retaliation. “Our approach is based on science (…) We take the measures that we deem justified, adapted to the evolution of the situation in China, and based on the discussions between our experts”, retorted Wednesday a spokesperson for the Commission.

The battle against Covid-19 continues

While member states will remain free to apply the recommendations adopted at EU level, “everyone understands that if we don’t act together, there will be holes in the system,” added another spokesperson. word. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), one of the EU’s health agencies, deemed on Thursday “unjustified” systematic screening of travelers, given the level of herd immunity in Europe and the presence in the EU of the same variants as in China.

While pointing to the lack of “reliable” Chinese statistics, the ECDC again estimated on Tuesday that the explosion of infections in China “should not have an impact on the epidemiological situation in Europe”. Conversely, the World Health Organization (WHO) has deemed “understandable” the control measures taken around the world, due to “the high circulation (of the virus) in China and in the absence of complete data ” .

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