EU countries agree to scrap COVID tests for travelers from China
The move is ‘in light of the recent epidemiological developments,’ the Swedish Presidency said in a statement.
EU countries have agreed to phase out two of the recommended travel-related measures agreed upon in the wake of China’s scrapping of its zero-COVID policy, the Swedish Presidency said in a statement on Thursday.
Countries agreed to lift the requirement for a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test for people traveling to the EU from China by the end of February and put an end to randomly testing travelers arriving from China by mid-March.
The move is "in light of the recent epidemiological developments and taking into account the opinion of the Health Security Committee," the statement reads.
Already, Sweden’s Public Health Agency has announced the country will be lifting all entry requirements for travelers from China starting February 19.
Fears that China’s lifting of its zero-COVID policy could result in fresh coronavirus variants have not yet materialized.
A study published last week in journal The Lancet found there had been no new COVID-19 variants in the country since it had lifted its draconian policy. The analysis by the researchers in China of cases between November 14 and December 20 found that more than 90 percent were of the Omicron subvariants BA.5.2 and BF.7. These variants are similar to the ones circulating in the EU/EEA during the fall of 2022, before the surge in cases in China, the EU’s disease agency (ECDC) told POLITICO.
The ECDC’s own analysis — which included sequencing cases detected through airport arrivals in several European countries and wastewater analysis of airplanes arriving in Europe from China — had also found that BA.5.2 and BF.7 were dominant, although they cautioned at the time that this wastewater data is “quite limited and are still being verified.”