EU rejects Italy’s request to impose Covid restrictions on arrivals from China

EU rejects Italy's request to impose Covid restrictions on arrivals from China
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The EU has rejected Italy’s request to restore travel restrictions on arrivals from China, as capitals around the world take different approaches to the country’s rising number of coronavirus infections.

At a meeting on Thursday, EU officials did not back Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s call for the bloc to collectively follow Rome’s move to test all air arrivals from China in response to Beijing’s decision to scrap its zero-Covid policy.

Meloni warned Brussels that the mandatory testing announced by Italy on Wednesday “will be ineffective if it is not followed at European level”. He added: “We want Europe to move in this direction.”

France, Germany and other EU states instead argued that the situation did not require changing their nationalities coronavirus police officers

A health and safety committee of EU member state officials agreed on Thursday that “coordinating national responses to serious cross-border threats to health is vital”, adding: “We must act together and will continue our discussions. .”

This was reported by the European Commission, which is the bloc’s executive arm. 7 The Omicron variant popular in China was already available in Europe.

“However, we remain vigilant and will be prepared to use the emergency brake if necessary,” the commission said, adding that it “could be activated if necessary to reimpose restrictions in a coordinated manner.”

The debate over reinstating pandemic travel restrictions lifted in western countries for much of the past year is the latest result of Beijing’s decision to roll back strict zero-Covid policies that have led to a wave of coronaviruses that have infected tens of millions of people. demon every day.

A huge spike in infections and a rush of international travel bookings from China have prompted the US to do so request negative test results for newcomers. Japan, India and Taiwan have also imposed testing requirements for the Chinese in anticipation of a wave of visitors.

fair share Thursday as investors in Asia and Europe worried about the impact of the hike on the global economy.

The British government also said it was considering whether to carry out Covid checks on arrivals from China – a departure from its previous insistence it would “not consider” such measures – but insisted there were “no plans” to reintroduce border controls. .

A government official said the UK had already experienced the Omicron wave engulfing China.

However, the UK’s Health Security Agency is monitoring the spread and spread of harmful variants, and Downing Street said all available international information would be reviewed.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said Rome would use the genetic sequencing of positive test results to determine whether new variants had emerged in China. There are fears that any new strain could pose a higher health risk than the circulating variants against which vaccines used in the west offer good protection.

Italy said 52 percent of passengers on a flight from China to Milan after Christmas tested positive for the coronavirus. The EU’s single-visa Schengen zone means there are no restrictions on the movement of people across much of the bloc.

After Thursday’s EU committee meeting, France’s health ministry stressed the need for a coherent EU strategy for negotiations, as well as further work on more information and measures to protect people and inform travellers.

But he added that “at this stage, the number of Chinese travelers to Europe is limited and will remain so for several weeks while China’s reopening measures are put into effect.”

The governments of Scandinavian countries and the UK also said they had no plans to follow Italy’s lead or were awaiting further information.

Health authorities said Norway and Finland were not considering imposing any restrictions on arrivals from China because the country already has a high number of Covid infections and there are few travelers from the Asian country at this time of year.

“It makes no sense,” Jari Jalava, an infectious disease specialist at Finland’s health authority, told state broadcaster Yle.

Germany’s health ministry said it was “monitoring the situation closely and coordinating closely with our international partners”. Spokesman Sebastian Gülde said: “So far, the health ministry has no indication that any worrisome variants have emerged in the context of the outbreak in China compared to the variants currently circulating in Germany.”

Additional reporting by Giuliana Ricozzi in Rome, Richard Milne in Oslo, Barney Jopson in Madrid and Guy Chazan in Berlin

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