According to Bloomberg, Italian health authorities will begin testing all travelers arriving from China for COVID after about half of the passengers on two flights departing from China to Milan tested positive for the virus.
Italian health Minister Orazio Schillaci said, “I have ordered mandatory Covid-19 antigenic swabs, and related virus sequencing, for all passengers coming from China and transiting through Italy.”
He noted that the measure was “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population.”
The Health Ministry added that it would also conduct tests to see if these passengers have new COVID variants. If a new variant is found, Italy may impose stricter restrictions on travel from the country.
Bloomberg reported that Italy’s government plans to discuss the Milan passenger incident at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, January 4, when Orazio Schillaci may update information on the tests.
Italy was one of the hardest-hit European countries during the initial COVID outbreak in early 2020.
In Germany and France, health officials are closely watching the situation.
German Health Ministry spokesman Sebastian Guelde said, “We have no indication that a more dangerous mutation has developed in China that would give rise to a declaration of a virus variant area, which would result in corresponding travel restrictions.”
Italy is the latest country to impose restrictions for people traveling from China after the Chinese regime lifted COVID-controlled measures earlier this month.
Previously, the U.S. and other countries have issued similar measures. The U.S. Wednesday announced that it would impose mandatory COVID tests on travelers from China. Earlier, Japan required a negative COVID test for China’s travelers upon arrival, while Malaysia imposed new tracking and surveillance measures.