Test first, then travel: EU still wants corona measures against China

“The vast majority of countries are in favor of pre-departure testing,” a spokesperson for the European Commission said last night after a meeting with health experts from all 27 EU countries, Reuters news agency reported.

The health experts also want airplane wastewater to be examined for virus particles and countries to tighten their domestic surveillance. Today in Brussels, the measures regarding Chinese travelers will continue to be discussed.

Call for one policy

The call for unambiguous European policy is becoming louder and louder. Last week, a patchwork of rules arose from countries that have already introduced corona measures for travelers from China, and countries that see little use in this, including the Netherlands.

Italy quickly tightened the rules. All passengers from China are required to take a corona test upon arrival. France and Spain followed later, among others, which require travelers to show a negative test certificate or be fully vaccinated. Those who have not been vaccinated and have not taken a test must take a test upon arrival.

‘No threat’

But other countries do not see that danger. The reason? The corona variants circulating in China are already circulating in the EU and therefore pose “no threat” to EU citizens, according to the European health service ECDC, which must monitor emerging threats from the corona virus. The ECDC also points to the relatively high immunity and vaccination coverage in Europe.

It therefore makes no sense to treat travelers from China differently, virologist Marion Koopmans previously told RTL News. GGD doctor Ashis Brahma called it carrying water to the sea. According to him, the measures should have been taken a month earlier. “Once it’s in here, it’s in here. You can’t stop what comes from China.”

‘Lack of reliable data’

The number of corona cases has reached a record high in China since the release of the much-discussed zero-covid policy. According to the official figures, the peak of the wave of infections was on December 2, but that is widely doubted because less testing is now being done. According to the ECDC, there is therefore a “lack of reliable data” on the number of corona cases, hospitalizations, deaths and the capacity and occupancy of intensive care units in China.

European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides says EU countries must be ‘very vigilant’. She wrote a letter to EU governments at the end of December saying that they should consider further imaging (‘sequencing’) possible mutations of the coronavirus and to investigate wastewater, including at airports, given the increase in infections in China .

There is a lack of adequate care, especially in the Chinese countryside, where a relatively large number of elderly people live, China correspondent Roland Smid explains in this video.

‘Extremely disappointing’

The international aviation organization IATA is not happy with a tightening of the rules against Chinese travelers. “It is disappointing that governments have not learned lessons from the pandemic and are re-introducing the same ineffective measures,” he said. writes chairman Willie Walsh on Twitter. According to the IATA, travel restrictions and traveler testing have proven ‘ineffective’ in the corona pandemic.

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