Italy has ordered Covid tests for all China visitors following a wave of transmission in the world’s most populous nation after the end of “zero-Covid” rules there this month.
“I have ordered mandatory Covid-19 antigenic swabs, and related virus sequencing, for all passengers coming from China and transiting through Italy,” Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said, according to a report by AFP. The measure was “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population.”
Almost half of the passengers on two flights to Milan from China tested positive for Covid, Bloomberg reported today. Authorities tested passengers who arrived on a flight from Beijing and one from Shanghai, Milan’s regional health chief said at a press conference today, according to the Bloomberg report.
Italy was among the countries to be hit hard when cases began to spread in early 2020 from the initial Covid epicenter in Wuhan, China.
The U.S. is considering rules for travelers arriving from China, NBC reported today. New rules could include testing on arrival and additional tracking, two U.S. officials were reported to have said. The U.S. is worried that China may not be transparently reporting Covid data — “specifically, viral genomic sequence data — needed to assess the spread and identify any variants of concern,” NBC said.
China announced on Tuesday that it would resume approval of Chinese citizens’ applications for ordinary passports for tourist travel starting Jan. 8, suggesting a increase in the number of mainlanders traveling abroad. China said also earlier this week it will end its quarantine requirement for international arrivals in the country on Jan. 8. (See earlier post here.)
Whereas China’s eased Covid rules are stirring concern among global health officials, shares in Trip.com, China’s biggest online travel agency, rose 2.8% to close at their highest level in a year and a half at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Wednesday on expectations that eased restrictions will lead to more travel. Shanghai-based airline China Eastern shares have gained nearly fifth in Hong Kong and Guangzhou-headquartered carrier China Southern has risen by nearly a quarter in Nasdaq trade in the past month.
Underscoring the likely mixed impact of China’s moves, more than one million individuals could reportedly die from Covid illness in the country though 2023 following the recent lifting of stringent pandemic-related restrictions, the U.S.-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has projected. (See earlier post here.)
See related posts:
China Will End Quarantine For International Arrivals Starting Jan. 8
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