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EU for joint measures to contain Covid-19 infection spread

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HQ Team

December 30, 2022:

HQ Team

December 30, 2022: The EU will take joint measures to thwart the spread of the Covid-19 virus as China eases its strict zero-Covid policy and tight travel quarantine rules.

The European Union’s Health Security Committee, an informal advisory group on health security, stated that the Covid-19 situation in Beijing requires “coordination of national responses to serious cross border threats to health is crucial.”

“We need to collaborate and will continue our discussions,” according to Euronews. The lifting of the curbs has led to large-scale infections spreading in China.

The Health Security Committee comprises officials from health ministries across the 27-nation bloc and is chaired by the commission. It has met frequently at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe to coordinate policies.

China is easing its travel curbs, a series of lockdowns and extensive testing following protests against its strict zero-Covid-19 policy. It aims to put its battered economy back on the rails and is redoing for a complete re-opening next year.

Xinjiang deaths

The protests erupted in late November after at least ten people died in a building under quarantine in Urumqi in the western Xinjiang region.

The easing of restrictions has led to an explosion in cases across China, where trust in locally-developed vaccines are very low. The country’s health authorities do not approve vaccines such as the mRNA jabs by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

The scale of the outbreak and doubts over official data prompted the United States, India, Italy, Taiwan and Japan impose new travel rules for Chinese visitors.

The US requires a negative Covid-19 test for travelers from China and Italy, which was hit hard during the initial outbreak in early 2020, and ordered mandatory Covid antigen swabs and virus sequencing for all travelers from China.

Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said, “the measure is essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus to protect the Italian population.”

United stand

“Italy cannot be the only country to carry out anti-COVID checks at airports for those arriving from China,” said Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and transport minister. “I have asked that checks and possible limitations be applied throughout Europe.” 

The BF7 omicron variant, prevalent in China, was already present in Europe and has not significantly grown. “However, we remain vigilant and will be ready to use the emergency brake if necessary,” a commission spokesperson told Euronews.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) considered “screenings and travel measures on travelers from China unjustified.”

The BF7 omicron variant prevalent in China was already circulating in the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA), and its threat had remained relatively high, according to a statement from the agency.

“Given higher population immunity in the EU/EEA, as well as the prior emergence and subsequent replacement of variants currently circulating in China by other Omicron sub-lineages in the EU/EEA, a surge in cases in China is not expected to impact the COVID-19 epidemiological situation in the EU/EEA,” according to the statement.

Germany said it saw no need to bring back travel restrictions. Austria stated that the return of Chinese tourists to Europe comes with economic benefits. 

French health officials said they saw “no reason” to reintroduce measures on travelers. “From a scientific point of view, there is no reason at this stage to bring back controls at the borders,” Brigitte Autran, head of the French health risk assessment committee COVARS, said on French Radio Classique.

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