CORONAVIRUS: China calls on Greece/EU "to evaluate objectively and fairly" the measures for travelers

China Chinese covid-19 coronavirus

Beijing has called on the European Union to examine "objectively and fairly" the epidemiological situation following the decision by Greece and other member states to impose measures on travelers arriving from China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning was responding to a question put to him during the regular press conference about the EU's recommendation that passengers from China be tested for COVID-19 before departure.

Officials from the governments of EU member states suggested that these passengers should test negative for COVID-19 before departure.

It comes as EU officials "strongly" recommended all member states insist on negative Covid tests from Chinese arrivals before they travel, something Greece imposed on Thursday with mandatory mask wearing and a negative test no older than 48 hours before departure.

Travel in and out of China gets easier from Sunday, as part of the scrapping of the "zero-Covid" policy despite the country seeing a surge in Covid cases, with reports of hospitals and crematoriums being overwhelmed.

Some EU countries have already introduced testing - despite earlier advice that it was "unjustified".

Wednesday's recommendation on negative tests came from the EU's Integrated Political Crisis Response group (IPCR), a body made up of officials from the EU's 27 governments.

It also advised that:

  • All passengers on flights to and from China wear face masks
  • Random testing of flights from China be introduced, and
  • Wastewater monitoring be conducted at airports.

The recommendation comes a day after the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said an "overwhelming" number of member states favoured restrictions on Chinese arrivals.

France, Spain and Italy have already introduced testing - but others, such as Germany, had been monitoring the situation. England, outside the EU, requires pre-flight testing on China arrivals from Thursday.

Despite the recommendation, it's not known if an EU-wide policy will be introduced - but individual states can set their own policy.

The advice from the IPCR is a change in tack from the body's disease prevention agency, which last week advised against the introduction of mandatory Covid tests.

The ECDC said testing was "unjustified", given the high rates of vaccination in Europe, and that variants circulating in China were already in the European Union.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said there was no evidence of new variants in China, despite the surge in cases. However, experts warned this could be due to a lack of testing and data.

The WHO has also said that China was under-representing the true impact of Covid in the country - in part due to what they said was a "too narrow" definition of a Covid death.

Beijing has confirmed only 22 deaths since December, which is at odds with data from analysts.

The UK science data company Airfinity estimates there are more than two million Covid cases a day in China, and 14,700 deaths.

The Chinese government suggested earlier this week that travel restrictions on Chinese arrivals are politically motivated - and has warned that it may retaliate.

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