European Union nations will try again on Wednesday, January 4, 2023, to formulate a coordinated approach regarding whether and how authorities should screen incoming airline passengers from China for any new COVID-19 variants after several member nations announced separate initiatives in the previous week.
Belgium said late on Monday, January 2, that it would examine the wastewater from Chinese-bound aircraft to see whether it reveals any new information regarding possibly unsafe variants. It said that it would recommend that sick Chinese tourists be tested for COVID-19.
“More should be done, but only in a coordinated approach among the 27 member states”, said Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.
It would be a positive signal to China if all EU states agreed that everybody entering Europe must first be examined, he told a television channel.
Sweden, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said that officials from member states would convene a conference on Wednesday to determine whether entrance rules are required across the union.
“It is important that we get the necessary measures in place quickly,” said Swedish Health Minister Jakob Forssmed.
France, Spain, and Italy have previously announced separate initiatives to apply stricter COVID-19 safeguards for Chinese travelers. The French government is mandating negative testing and recommending its nationals avoid travel to China unless absolutely necessary. In addition, France is reinstating mask regulations for flights from China to France.
The Spanish government has said that all flying travelers from China would be required to have negative tests or evidence of immunization. Italy was the first EU member to require coronavirus testing for airline passengers arriving from China, but several others have stated that such measures may not be the best way to protect local populations given that new strains of coronavirus now arriving from China have been present in Europe for several months, on average. Wednesday, the United States issued additional COVID-19 testing requirements for all Chinese tourists, following other Asian countries that have imposed limitations due to an increase in infections.