Italy on Thursday urged the rest of the European Union to follow its lead and test travellers from China for COVID, but others said they saw no need to do so for now or were waiting for a common stance across the largely border-less bloc.
The EU’s health officials could not agree on one course of action when they held talks in the morning and said they would continue their talks later.
This was not the first time EU countries were split on COVID policies. At the start of the pandemic there was much debate on what to do, and heated competition to buy safety equipment, before member states pulled together and successfully placed – and shared – joint vaccine orders.
Italy “expects and hopes” that the EU will impose mandatory COVID tests for all passengers flying in from China like Rome did, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told a news conference.
The scale of the outbreak in China and doubts over official data have prompted countries including the United States and Japan to impose new travel rules on Chinese visitors as Beijing lifted its restrictions.
In the EU, so far only Italy has ordered COVID-19 antigen swabs for all travellers coming from China. This risks not being effective if others in the bloc, where people travel freely from one country to another, will not do the same, Meloni said.