EU Officials Want Chinese Travelers to Be Screened for COVID Before Entering Europe

Testing Center for Chinese Travelers (Photo: Getty Images)

European nations on Wednesday recommended new restrictions on travelers from China due to concerns over increasing Covid cases.

Travelers departing from China may soon be required to present a negative Covid test before leaving for one of the 27 EU countries. Additionally, they might be asked to wear masks during flights and could face random testing upon arrival.

“The Member States agreed on a coordinated precautionary approach in the light of Covid-19 developments in China,” said a statement released Wednesday following a meeting of EU officials.

Health policy is the responsibility of individual governments, so it will be up to each country to decide whether to implement these EU recommendations.

Some EU nations have already increased their protective measures against potential new cases from China. On Thursday, Germany confirmed it would require at least a rapid coronavirus test from visitors from China.

Chinese officials have criticized the recent testing requirements imposed on travelers from their country and have threatened reciprocal countermeasures.

Currently, China requires foreign visitors to present a negative Covid-19 test before entering the country and to quarantine for eight days after arrival.

Beijing plans to remove the quarantine requirement this weekend but will continue to require proof of negative Covid-19 tests from international visitors. In December, China also announced it would resume issuing visas for residents to travel abroad.

The U.S., India, U.K., Japan, and Australia have all introduced stricter measures for travelers from China to prevent a surge in Covid cases.

COVID-19 Testing Center (Photo: Aurelien Morissard)

Italy was among the first EU nations to act after Beijing abruptly ended the strict measures it had enforced for much of the pandemic.

Rome, which was heavily impacted by the pandemic, mandated compulsory testing last week. France and Spain have taken similar actions.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, aims to coordinate these rules across the region.

In late December, Chinese authorities said they would resume issuing visas for residents to travel abroad and that travelers arriving in China would no longer have to quarantine.

However, since November, China has seen a rise in Covid infections, raising concerns about the level of immunization among its population.

The country has nine domestically developed vaccines, but these have not been updated for the highly infectious omicron variant.

European authorities have offered to send vaccines to China, but Beijing has not yet responded, according to a spokesperson for the European Commission.

The commission spokesperson told that the EU had reached out via its delegation in Beijing “to offer solidarity and support, including through sharing of public health expertise and variant-adapted EU vaccine donations.”

When asked on Tuesday about Europe’s offer to provide Covid vaccines, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning replied,

“China has established the world’s largest production lines of Covid vaccines with an annual production capacity of over 7 billion doses and an annual output of over 5.5 billion doses, which meet the needs of ensuring that all people eligible for vaccination have access to Covid vaccines.”

“China’s Covid situation is predictable and under control,” she added.

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