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Italy finds no new COVID variants among Chinese visitors so far – POLITICO

ROME — Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said there was so far no sign of a new COVID-19 variant among passengers recently arriving in Italy from China, citing the resurgent coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Italy became the first European country to introduce mandatory virus tests for people arriving from China. Beijing’s decision to lift its lockdown policy earlier this month sparked a surge in cases, fueling fears around the world that a dangerous new variant could emerge.

Speaking at a press conference in Rome on Thursday, Meloni said that genomic sequencing of positive cases that had arrived at Milan’s airport since last week showed only variants of Omicron.

Meloni said authorities in Lombardy are sequencing the virus. , already exists in Italy, ”she said. “So for now, it’s pretty reassuring.”

Meloni said the government is asking the EU for a bloc-wide response regarding mandatory testing. “When it comes to China, we took immediate action,” she said.

Meloni said he “expects” and “waits” for the government to write to the EU commissioner for health and hear whether the EU agrees to Italy’s demands. The entire block responded, but did not go so far as to detail the new behavior.

Italy’s Health Minister Oraggio Schiracci said the low uptake and effectiveness of the vaccine had helped create ideal conditions for a new wave of infections in China. “Vaccination is scarce in China, and the vaccines used have low levels of protection and low doses…Omicron until recently had low hybrid immunity and little distribution,” he said in Rome. “And this fall we had the perfect storm.”