Italy to Test Travelers From China for Covid, Wants EU to Do Same

American Age Official

(Bloomberg) — Italy will begin testing all arrivals from China for Covid, and wants European Union countries to do the same, after a virus scare at Milan airport.

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Authorities in Milan earlier said that almost half of the passengers on two flights from China tested positive for the virus. Most weren’t showing symptoms of the disease.

China has seen outbreaks of the coronavirus since the government there abandoned its strict zero-Covid policies. Other countries have also responded, and the US on Wednesday said it will require a negative Covid test for travelers from China.

In Italy, which was the first European country to be hit hard by Covid in early 2020, Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said late Wednesday there’s “no concern” that a new variant will be found in the Milan tests.

That would remain a key worry among health officials until sequencing results are released on Thursday.

“Testing is crucial to be able to check if new variants are emerging,” Schillaci said to reporters after a cabinet meeting. “We sent a letter to the EU health commissioner to explain our decision and ask for a collective agreement in testing.”

While the high rate of passengers with the virus has put authorities on alert, one factor in Italy’s favor is its high vaccination rate.

More than 80% of people are fully inoculated, according to the World Health Organization, and many have also received booster shots. It’s a similar story across much of Western Europe.

Earlier on Wednesday, the UK said it will ensure it has the necessary Covid surveillance in place, but doesn’t have plans to introduce mandatory testing on arrivals from China.

In Germany, health authorities are “closely watching” the situation, according to Health Ministry spokesman Sebastian Guelde.

“We have no indication that a more dangerous mutation has developed in China that would give rise to a declaration of a virus variant area, which would result in corresponding travel restrictions,” he added.

The French health ministry is also monitoring developments, and said it’s “ready to look at all useful measures that could be put in place as a consequence, in collaboration with France’s European partners.”

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