Jan. 4 (UPI) — Pushed by a handful of member states taking their own actions, the Europe Union is now considering taking travel measures in response to Chinese travelers, where COVID-19 is currently surging.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides tweeted that the bloc’s Health Security Committee would hold additional talks on Wednesday after “converging” Tuesday on a series of protocols including pre-departure testing for travelers from China, testing wastewater from flights, and increased domestic surveillance of the virus.
A European Commission spokesperson told Politico that a draft opinion on proposed measures presented to EU capitals would be revised despite initially saying increased screening for travelers from China would be “unjustified.”
“The overwhelming majority of countries are in favor of pre-departure testing,” the spokesperson said. “[Such tests] would need to be targeted at the most appropriate flights and airports and carried out in a coordinated way to ensure their effectiveness.”
The draft also includes wearing masks on flights from China, personal hygiene for travelers and increased EU vigilance on testing and vaccination.
Italy was one of the first EU countries to decide to pre-screen travelers coming from China on its own after receiving a flight from the country after Christmas where more than half of the passengers tested positive for the coronavirus. Italy had called on the EU to take action.
Belgium started testing wastewater samples from two flights a week from China. Britain complained that there is a lack of comprehensive health information shared by China.
Chinese authorities have claimed this week that such measures targeting its citizens are politically motivated and not based on science.