Italy has decided to impose compulsory tests on all travelers coming from China, faced with an explosion of Covid cases, the Italian Minister of Health announced on Wednesday. Other countries have expressed concern.
“This measure is essential to guarantee the surveillance and individualization of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population”, justified the Minister Orazio Schillaci in a press release.
This decision was taken after a recommendation from the Spallanzani Institute, which specializes in infectious diseases, but also after the first tests carried out on Monday at Milan airport on 212 passengers on two flights from China.
Of these 212 tests, 97 came back positive. The positivity rate was 38% on one flight and 52% on the other. All of the positive people were apparently asymptomatic, but they were asked to self-isolate. We are now awaiting the results of the sequencing of the virus to find out if these passengers were carriers of a new variant of Covid 19.
The abrupt end this month of China’s “zero Covid” policy has raised concern from several countries, including the United States, which is also considering entry restrictions for Chinese travelers, as China makes faced with the largest wave of contamination in the world, amplified by the appearance of new variants.
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“There are growing fears in the international community about the current resurgence of Covid-19 contaminations in China and the lack of transparent data, in particular on the viral genomic sequences, communicated by the People’s Republic of China”, indicated Wednesday. American officials.
For its part, Japan will restore from Friday the mandatory PCR tests for travelers from mainland China. India and Malaysia had already announced this week a strengthening of health measures for travelers from China.
The island of Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory, also announced that it would carry out virus checks on travelers from the mainland.
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For its part, the French government, which ensures “to follow very carefully the evolution of the situation in China”, faced with an explosion of Covid cases, says it is “ready” “to study all the useful measures”.
Since August 1, 2022 and the adoption of the law putting an end to the exceptional regimes created to fight against the Covid-19 epidemic, travelers no longer have to complete any formalities before their arrival in France, regardless of the country or area of origin.
This text, however, leaves the possibility for the government to impose, until January 31, the presentation of a negative test before entering the territory for people over 12 years old “in the event of the appearance and circulation of ‘a new variant of Covid-19 likely to pose a serious health threat’.
In Switzerland, it is up to the Confederation to take any decision. For his part, Geneva State Councilor Mauro Poggia believes that travelers arriving in Switzerland from China must be tested. He intends to send the Confederation a request to this effect.
>> Read also: Chinese travelers should be tested for Covid, says Mauro Poggia
The city of Bruges calls for a European solution
The mayor of Bruges, a Flemish city very popular with Chinese tourists before the pandemic, called on Wednesday for control measures for travelers coming from China.
While Bruges (west of Belgium) welcomed “between 100,000 and 150,000 Chinese visitors” per year before the pandemic, the mayor of the city, Dirk De Fauw, was alarmed by the reopening of the Chinese borders, which would result in an imminent return of tourists. He called for a solution “at European level”, noting that restriction measures “often” exist for European travelers going to countries outside the EU.
According to him, Belgium could experience a significant influx of Chinese tourists in the spring. “Usually these are organized group trips and they won’t resume until April or May, so we have time to work out any restrictions,” he said.
Germany, for its part, considered that it was not necessary for the time being to impose restrictions on travelers from China.
“We are monitoring the situation in China very closely, but at this time we have no indication that a more dangerous mutation has developed (…) which would justify the declaration of a variant zone of the virus”, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.
Variant zone status requires anyone entering Germany from this zone to be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.
furr with agencies
Italy has decided to impose Covid tests on Chinese travelers