Corona wave in China: EU recommends compulsory testing for travelers

The violent corona wave in China is fueling concern in Europe about new virus variants. Now the EU states are "urgently requested" to introduce a test requirement for travelers from China.

The Swedish EU Council Presidency has only been in charge for a few days and has already passed its first test. The government in Stockholm had pushed for a uniform line when dealing with travelers from China – and as quickly as possible.

In the evening, representatives of the 27 member states agreed on a coordinated approach at a multi-hour meeting of the EU Crisis Response Mechanism (IPCR). In it, EU institutions and the member states coordinate to avert crises or to be able to deal with them better.

The 27 could not agree on a test requirement for travelers from the People’s Republic. However, the member states are “urgently requested” to prescribe a negative corona test for all passengers before departure from China, which must not be older than 48 hours.

On Tuesday, the majority of EU health experts in the responsible committee spoke out in favor of compulsory testing. “The conclusion at the meeting was that a large majority of Member States believe that introducing such tests at this point would be prudent, reasonable and important,” said EU Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant.

Wastewater from aircraft is to be examined

According to the Swedish Council Presidency, the EU countries agree on the recommendation for travelers to wear masks on flights to and from China. In addition, the EU countries should randomly check air passengers from China upon arrival. Positive test results are to be sequenced in order to quickly discover possible new virus variants. The waste water from aircraft coming from China should also be examined for this.

Ahead of the meeting, European Commission spokesman Tim McPhie said: “We believe that in the circumstances, we need to take a proactive approach to ensure we remain vigilant and that we have the necessary tools in place to identify and manage potential risks .”

Some EU countries have pushed ahead: France, Italy and Spain are already demanding a negative test from travelers from China. Austria and Belgium rely on the wastewater analysis, as does the federal government. Berlin is also demanding a common EU approach. This is also the focus in Brussels: “Our goal is to be vigilant and to monitor, test and detect variants appropriately,” said McPhie.

The EU health authority is not concerned

Well-known virologists in Germany do not consider mandatory tests for travelers from China to be necessary. The EU health authority ECDC also sees the situation calmly: According to a statement, the increase in the number of infections in China will not affect the epidemiological situation in the EU. Reason: According to the authority, the virus variants circulating in China have long been widespread in Europe and do not pose a challenge to the immune response of EU citizens because they are comparatively well immunized and vaccinated in large numbers.

At the meeting of the crisis response team, the member states agreed to review the measures taken by the middle of the month.

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