By Uta Winkhaus, dpa I Wednesday, January 4, 2023
BERLIN- German public health physicians are calling for EU-wide Covid-19 testing for passengers arriving from China as the number of infections across China soars, while the EU is set to meet and discuss the question later this week.
It is likely that the coronavirus will mutate given its explosive spread, Johannes Nießen, Chairman of the Association of Public Health Service Doctors told the newspapers of the Funke media group. That is why we have to be prepared, he said.
“We now need uniform protection throughout Europe,” Nießen said. “Every traveller from China should be tested with rapid tests when entering the EU.”
The rule should apply to business travellers, tourists and other visitors, he said. If people test positive for the virus, Nießen continued, they should be given a PCR test and the sample must be sequenced. Anyone who has been infected should have to go into isolation, Nießen added.
The European Union did not decide on a shared response to the rapid spread of the virus in China during consultations on the issue last Thursday. European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides simply called on members to review their national measures for monitoring the virus and ramp them up again if needed.
However, another meeting of those involved in the crisis response has been scheduled for Wednesday.
In the meantime, several European countries have imposed entry restrictions on travellers from China or have held out the prospect of doing so, including France, Italy and Spain.
France is preparing to require people to take PCR tests on arrival, while the German government said on Sunday that officials will wait and see. German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Friday that a tightening of the entry rules in Germany was “not yet necessary.”
However, Germany’s Left Party has criticzed this approach, demanding that PCR testing be made mandatory for travellers reaching German airports from China.
“The news that almost every second passenger from China tested positive for Covid-19 at Milan airport should be alarming,” Kathrin Vogler, health policy spokesperson for the Left Party in the German parliament told t-online news website. “In order to find out whether travellers from China might be bringing a previously unknown virus variant with them, compulsory PCR testing with sequencing makes sense.”