The European Union has “strongly encouraged” its member states to introduce pre-departure COVID-19 tests for all passengers flying in from China.
The recommendation on Wednesday came as Beijing plans to ease travel restrictions for its residents on January 8 despite a wave of new infections that has overwhelmed Chinese hospitals and funeral houses.
Among EU countries, France, Italy and Spain already require travellers from China to present negative test results before boarding but the European Council – after a week of talks between health experts – stopped short of agreeing that all 27 member states impose such curbs.
Instead, the EU presidency said European countries “are strongly encouraged to introduce, for all passengers departing from China to Member States, the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test taken not more than 48 hours prior to departure from China”.
The bloc said it took its approach “considering the need for sufficient, reliable data” and also recommended face masks for all passengers travelling to and from China.
Member states were also “encouraged” to carry out random testing of passengers and test wastewater from planes arriving from China to check for dangerous variants that are not common in Europe.
Italy and France are already testing Chinese passengers on arrival, while Austria said it will test wastewater from all flights from China as of next week.