Italy mandates COVID tests for arrivals from China

Other EU nations appear hesitant to follow Italy's lead and impose mandatory testing on Chinese air travellers.

In an effort to coordinate a reaction to China’s decision to suspend its COVID-19 restrictions despite an outbreak of diseases there, European Union health officials are conducting talks. 

Italy has demanded tests upon arrival for all travellers arriving by plane from the country.

The size of the outbreak in China and scepticism over official data have pushed nations like the United States, India, Taiwan, and Japan to put fresh travel restrictions on Chinese tourists. 

The EU Health Security Committee will debate these issues on Thursday.

Only Italy has taken this action within the EU; the other member states of the virtually borderless union either claimed they did not see the need to do so or were awaiting a consensus among the 27 members.

The committee, which is made up of representatives from health ministries throughout the Union and is led by the European Commission, was unable to announce when its meeting would end or what actions it would be able to take.

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The European Commission’s health directorate general posted on Twitter that “the EU Health Security Committee is meeting… to discuss the COVID-19 situation in China and possible measures to be done in a coordinated fashion.”

The committee, which often convened during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe to coordinate policies, could only make recommendations.

However, its objective is for member states to concur on a single stance and apply it throughout the Union.

China turned back this month toward accepting the virus after enforcing the harshest COVID rule in the world for three years, overtaxing its already-fragile healthcare system.

Some international health experts believe that because of the relaxation of limitations as a result of strong opposition to them, COVID is now spreading essentially unfettered and potentially infecting millions of individuals every day.

Although foreign countries and a large number of epidemiologists believe the figures are far higher and that more than one million people may die next year, China officially reported one new COVID death for Wednesday, down from three on Tuesday.