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The European Union has convened to make a joint decision on whether to introduce a ‘negative test’ requirement for travelers from China and additional measures to be taken as the Chinese government eased travel restrictions on its citizens and the number of cases in the country increased . However, at the end of the meeting, it was decided that China was “strongly encouraged to take the test” rather than “negative test requirement”.

After the Chinese government announced that it has reopened its borders from January 8 and lifted travel restrictions imposed on the Chinese people for three years, there has been disagreement among EU countries on how to respond to the situation.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kryakides called the Chinese authorities and said that “the EU is ready to cooperate with the Chinese government on its experience in combating COVID-19” and more importantly, they can provide free COVID-19 vaccines to China from stocks in the hands of the EU. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said that such “discriminatory treatment of the Chinese is unacceptable” and that they will respond in the same way to countries that impose testing requirements on them.

EU officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) do not believe the Chinese government’s data on cases in their country and their claims that “no new variants have been discovered” are credible. French government spokesman Olivier Veran expressed this concern, stating: “One in three passengers from China have tested positive. After all the efforts and sacrifices made for almost three years, no country wants to witness an epidemic again on its own soil. .”

After weeks of discussions, ambassadors from EU member states, public health experts and interior ministries summoned by the Swedish president on an “urgent procedure” met in Brussels for the second time on Wednesday to work out a common position. .

Prior to the meeting, the EU commission presented a number of recommendations, including that “passengers should have a negative test (PCR or antigen) before boarding an aircraft.” While countries such as Italy, France and Spain have announced that they will impose a measure of testing requirements from tomorrow, Germany and Austria, who want Chinese tourists to come and not anger the Chinese administration, defended the view that “for now That is unnecessary”. .

Test requirement in “diplomatic” language

In the reconciliation text that emerged from the lengthy meeting, the phrase “mandatory test” was replaced with the phrase “passengers are strongly advised to take a COVID-19 test before boarding the aircraft” in light of the Chinese government’s warnings. administration. Other measures taken in the text are listed below:

– Member States agreed on a coordinated approach in light of the evolution of the COVID-19 situation in China, in particular taking into account the “need for adequate, reliable data” and China’s easing of travel restrictions from January 8, 2023, in line with with outlined below.

– Member States recommend that all passengers on flights to and from China wear a medical or FFP2/N95/KN95 mask.

– Member States have agreed to inform aircraft and airport personnel, as well as passengers, about personal hygiene and sanitation practices.

– Member States are urged to require a “negative” COVID-19 test for all travelers arriving in the EU from China, which is carried out no more than 48 hours before departure.

– Member States are urged to continue to randomly test travelers from China as soon as they arrive and continue to monitor positive outbreak results (to determine which option).

– Testing and monitoring of wastewater from international flights and aircraft from China and airports will also continue.

– The European Union will continue to monitor the epidemic situation in the EU and developments in China and will take all necessary measures. Member States agree to assess the situation and review the measures put in place by mid-January 2023.

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