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EU to present coordinated response to China COVID wave

Update : 04 Jan 2023, 21:40

The European Union has been criticized for its patchwork approach to arrivals from China amid a spike in COVID-19 infections. Only some countries have introduced travel restrictions for arrivals from China.

EU nations on Wednesday were finalizing a joint response to China's COVID-19 crisis.

Over the past week, member states have been implementing their own restrictions on travelers arriving from China.

Beijing has slammed the new rules, such as testing requirements in Italy and France, as "discriminatory" and vowed to impose countermeasures. As the EU was fine-tuning its approach, Chinese government spokesperson Mao Ning said: "We sincerely hope that all parties will focus on fighting the epidemic itself, avoid the politicization of COVID.''

Medical groups and airlines have also complained that the disjointed approach is untenable. International Air Transport Association Director General Willie Walsh said that it was "extremely disappointing to see this knee-jerk reinstatement of measures that have proven ineffective over the last three years."

"Research undertaken around the arrival of the omicron variant concluded that putting barriers in the way of travel made no difference to the peak spread of infections. At most, restrictions delayed that peak by a few days," he said.

Some EU health officials have also noted that the variants now heavily affecting China have already been present in Europe for sometime.

Despite this, the European Union appeared determined to impose some sort of restriction. Sweden, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, issued a statement saying that "travelers from China need to be prepared for decisions being taken at short notice.''

On a trip to Portugal, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said it was essential for the EU to have a united response to China's unprecendented wave of infections.

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