UK, France say no plans for Covid tests for China arrivals

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People are seen waiting in the arrivals area of ​​Terminal 5 at Heathrow International Airport.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

LONDON — The UK and France said on Thursday morning they currently have no plans to reintroduce compulsory Covid-19 tests or additional requirements for travelers arriving in the country.

Several countries have announced new measures in response to China’s easing of Covid restrictions amid a suspected surge in infections, but domestic testing has declined. Beijing lifted its quarantine-on-arrivals policy on Monday, prompting many to book their first overseas trips in years.

Italy, the first epicenter of the outbreak in Europe in early 2020, became the first country in the region on Wednesday to announce that all travelers coming from China will need mandatory antigen swabs.

On a December 26 flight from China to Milan’s Malpensa airport, 52% of passengers tested positive for Covid, La Repubblica reported.

European Union health officials met on Thursday to coordinate the response.

Brigitte Autran, head of France’s health risk assessment committee COVARS, told France’s Radio Classics, “From a scientific point of view, at this stage there is no reason to bring back restrictions at the border,” according to a Reuters report. ” he said.

Officials in Germany, Portugal and Austria also appeared reluctant to introduce new measures.

However, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told a press conference that many travelers enter Italy from other Schengen countries, so Italy’s testing measures may not be effective unless they are implemented across the EU. said.

She said preliminary tests showed Covid-positive travelers from China were aware of the Omicron variant, Reuters reported.

Italy’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases has reportedly called for increased testing of people arriving from China. “It would be better if the coordination of surveillance took place at the European level,” the institute said, according to a translation by Ansa news agency.

Italy’s Minister of Transport Matteo Salvini said on Twitter, “We can’t be the only country to carry out anti-Covid checks at airports for people arriving from China,” according to Google Translate.

Starting January 5, the United States said all arrivals from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau must provide a negative Covid test within two days of departure.

There are strong reasons to believe that China is seeing more Covid deaths than reported

India will require negative tests for passengers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand, and those who test positive or show Covid symptoms will be quarantined.

Japan and Taiwan will conduct tests upon arrival of passengers from mainland China.

The UK government said it had no plans to reintroduce new coronavirus testing or additional entry requirements, but said it would monitor the situation until Thursday.

They may announce policy changes, especially if a wave of other European countries reintroduces the test.

Officials cite the lack of public information about the new variant from China as a reason for stepping up precautions.

Beijing says its latest outbreak is due to the highly contagious but non-fatal Omicron variant. But the lack of data and the country’s track record of obscuring reality means many countries are taking a cautious approach.

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