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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Pandemic: Corona wave in China: EU recommends compulsory testing for travelers

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A huge corona wave in China is fueling fears of new virus variants in Europe. After the chaos at the beginning of the pandemic, the EU is now practicing unity. But on one point there is no consensus.

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Despite a massive corona wave in China, the EU countries have not been able to agree on a test requirement for travelers from the People’s Republic – but strongly recommend it.

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As the Swedish Presidency announced after a meeting of health experts from the member states in Brussels, the EU countries are urged to make a negative corona test, which should not be older than 48 hours, mandatory for all travelers from China to Europe before departure .

Important guideline

There was agreement on recommending wearing a medical or FFP2 mask on board the aircraft and providing health information to travelers to China. The measures should be checked in the middle of the month. The decisions are not binding for the individual EU states, but are considered an important guideline.

In addition to the obligation to test, it is now recommended, among other things, that travelers from China be randomly tested for Corona when they arrive in the EU. Positive samples should be sequenced if necessary. In addition, the waste water from airports where machines from China arrive should be examined.

No exact infection numbers

Barely a month after the end of the zero-Covid strategy that had been pursued for almost three years, several hundred million people in China have already been infected with the virus. From January 8th, the obligation to quarantine when entering China will no longer apply. According to experts, the huge outbreak is expected to last until March or April. Exact infection numbers are not available because the authorities have stopped publishing epidemiological data.

The World Health Organization again asked for more information from China. At the same time, she showed understanding for countries that have introduced testing regulations for travelers from the most populous country.

A number of EU countries such as Italy, France and Spain have already tightened entry rules on their own in the past few days. This brought back memories of the beginning of the pandemic, when the rules in Europe varied from country to country and were difficult for travelers to keep track of. The agreement on Wednesday is now intended to ensure a unified response from the EU.

What about possible variants?

The federal government also wanted to work in Brussels for a uniform European regulation. However, Berlin was particularly interested in “setting up virus variant monitoring”, as a spokesman for the Ministry of Health said. The variants of the corona virus previously known from China are still those that are also circulating in Germany, “but of course we would like to know at an early stage whether anything will change”.

The EU health authority ECDC had recently given the all-clear regarding the situation in China. This is not expected to have any impact on the epidemiological situation in Europe, the authority said. She also emphasized that the variants in the People’s Republic of the EU are already in circulation and therefore do not pose a challenge to the immune response of EU citizens. The fact that the EU states have now agreed on new measures is also due to the fact that the data from China is considered insufficient.

Beijing recently emphasized that it had shared transparent information about the recent spread of the virus. At the same time, the foreign office spoke out against strict entry regulations from other countries for travelers from the People’s Republic. WHO Emergency Relief Coordinator Mike Ryan stressed that the requirement for testing was not a travel restriction.

Source: Stern

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