Most European Union countries favour introducing pre-departure COVID testing for travellers from China, the European Commission has said, as Beijing plans to lift travel restrictions on its citizens despite a wave of COVID infections.
The common EU approach emerged after a meeting on Tuesday of the Health Security Committee, an EU advisory body of national health experts from the body’s 27 countries, chaired by the Commission.
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“The overwhelming majority of countries are in favour of pre-departure testing,” a Commission spokesman said.
“These measures would need to be targeted at the most appropriate flights and airports and carried out in a coordinated way to ensure their effectiveness,” he added.
The Commission on Tuesday prepared a draft proposal for the talks, which included a recommendation for mask-wearing on flights from China, wastewater monitoring for aircraft arriving from China, genomic surveillance at airports and increased EU vigilance on testing and vaccination.
“This will now be revised and adopted based on the input of [EU] member states,” the Commission spokesman said, adding that more talks on the measures would take place at another meeting of EU health officials on Wednesday afternoon.
The spokesman said all EU countries agreed they needed a coordinated approach to the changing situation in China and to deal with the implications of increased travel from China to Europe after Beijing lifts its stringent pandemic policies on January 8.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said last week it did not currently recommend measures for travellers from China.
It said the variants circulating in China were already in the EU, that European citizens had relatively high vaccination levels and that the potential for imported infections was low compared with daily infections in the EU, with healthcare systems currently coping.