EU doesn’t follow Italy with COVID checks on China arrivals

Dec 29, 2022, 4:42 AM | Updated: Jan 3, 2023, 2:57 am
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 20...

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is assessing Beijing’s rollback of its strict anti-infection controls but refrained Thursday from immediately following EU member Italy in requiring coronavirus tests for airline passengers coming from China.

Health officials from the 27-member bloc promised to continue talks on seeking a common approach to travel rules. However, the EU’s executive arm said the BF.7 omicron variant prevalent in China was already circulating in Europe and that its threat had not significantly grown.

“However, we remain vigilant and will be ready to use the emergency brake if necessary,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Even though virus experts in the EU have played down the immediate danger, Italy made coronavirus tests mandatory for all airline passengers arriving from China. More than 50% of people screened upon arrival at Milan’s Malpensa airport in recent days tested positive for the virus.

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni on Thursday increased pressure on the EU to join Italy’s approach. She said requiring COVID tests of all passengers from China “is only effective if it is taken at the European level,” noting that many arrive in Italy on connecting flights through other European countries.

Considering the reluctance from several EU nations and experts, the EU’s health security committee said in a statement after meeting Thursday that “we need to act jointly and will continue our discussions.”

Holding off was certainly something Germany wanted. “There is no indication that a more dangerous variant has developed in this outbreak in China … which would bring corresponding travel restrictions,” Health Ministry spokesman Sebastian Guelde said.

A coordinated EU approach is necessary since almost all EU member nations are part of Europe’s visa-free Schengen Area. The unrestricted travel means that testing in one nation would not be very effective since travelers from China could enter from another EU nation and spread the virus.

After strict travel restrictions at the height of the pandemic, the EU returned to a pre-pandemic system of free travel this fall, but member nations agreed that an “emergency brake” could be activated at short notice to meet an unexpected challenge.

“At a scientific level, there is no reason at this stage to reimpose specific border controls,” Professor Brigitte Autran, a vaccines expert for France’s health ministry, told Radio Classique on Thursday.

And even Italy’s health minister came with some good news Thursday. Orazio Schillaci told the Senate in Rome that sequencing indicates the variants detected in passengers arriving from China are already in circulation in Europe, somewhat easing fears that a new variant from China could start running amok in Europe.

“This is the most important and reassuring news,´´ Schillaci said.

The United States announced new COVID-19 testing requirements Wednesday for all travelers from China, joining some Asian nations that had imposed restrictions because of a surge of infections.

Japan will require a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for travelers from China, and Malaysia announced new tracking and surveillance measures. India, South Korea and Taiwan are requiring virus tests for visitors from China.

___

Colleen Barry in Milan and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed reporting.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni attends her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni holds her year-end press conference in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
            
              A masked traveller arrives at the international flight check in counter at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. Moves by the U.S., Japan and others to mandate COVID-19 tests for passengers arriving from China reflect global concern that new variants could emerge in its ongoing explosive outbreak — and the government may not inform the rest of the world quickly enough. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              Masked travellers with luggage line up at the international flight check in counter at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. Moves by the U.S., Japan and others to mandate COVID-19 tests for passengers arriving from China reflect global concern that new variants could emerge in its ongoing explosive outbreak — and the government may not inform the rest of the world quickly enough. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
            
              A traveller wearing a face mask with his luggage and passport walks by a poster depicting the Beijing airport on display at the international flight check in counter at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. Moves by the U.S., Japan and others to mandate COVID-19 tests for passengers arriving from China reflect global concern that new variants could emerge in its ongoing explosive outbreak — and the government may not inform the rest of the world quickly enough. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

AP

FILE - The seal of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System is displayed ...
Associated Press

Wyoming crypto bank’s Federal Reserve application denied

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Federal Reserve Board has denied a Wyoming cryptocurrency bank’s application for Federal Reserve System membership, officials announced Friday, dealing a setback to the crypto industry’s attempts to build acceptance in mainstream U.S. banking. Many in crypto have been looking to Cheyenne-based Custodia Bank’s more than 2-year-old application as a bellwether […]
18 hours ago
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Senior Airmen Andrew Whitener and Tyler Glodgett 341s...
Associated Press

Nuclear strike chief seeks cancer review of launch officers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Air Force general in charge of the nation’s air- and ground-launched nuclear missiles has requested an official investigation into the number of officers who are reporting blood cancer diagnoses after serving at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The illnesses became publicly known this week after The Associated Press obtained […]
18 hours ago
FILE - An Amazon Fresh grocery store stands in Warrington, Pa., on Feb. 4, 2022. In an email to Pri...
Associated Press

Amazon axes free grocery delivery on Prime orders under $150

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is axing free grocery delivery for Prime members on orders less than $150. Customers who get their groceries delivered from Amazon Fresh — and pay less than $150 — will be charged between $3.95 and $9.95, depending on the order size, the company said in an email to Prime members […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis hill during New Year ce...
Associated Press

Fitch ups Greece’s rating to a notch below investment grade

NEW YORK (AP) — Credit ratings company Fitch has raised Greece’s credit rating to one notch below investment grade. In a report issued Friday, Fitch estimates that Greece’s deficit will shrink to 1.8% of its gross domestic product in 2024 from an estimated 3.8% last year. “There is some uncertainty around fiscal policies after the […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt speaks during an interview in Tokyo, Thursday, Dec. 1, ...
Associated Press

Usain Bolt fires business manager over Jamaica fraud case

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt told reporters Friday that he is baffled over how $12.7 million of his money has gone missing from a local private investment firm that authorities are investigating as part of a massive fraud that began more than a decade ago. Bolt also said he has […]
18 hours ago
This image taken from video provided by the NAOJ & Asahi Shimbun, shows spiral swirling through the...
Associated Press

Camera captures night sky spiral after SpaceX rocket launch

HONOLULU (AP) — A camera atop Hawaii’s tallest mountain has captured what looks like a spiral swirling through the night sky. Researchers believe it was from the launch of a military GPS satellite that lifted off earlier on a SpaceX rocket in Florida. The images were captured on Jan. 18 by a camera at the […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
EU doesn’t follow Italy with COVID checks on China arrivals