WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Almost half of the passengers of two separate flights from China to Milan tested positive for COVID.
- Italy’s health officials have since imposed a mandatory test for all travelers coming from China.
- Other countries, including the US, have considered imposing travel restrictions amid the lack of data from the Chinese government.
Italy’s health officials have imposed a mandatory test for all travelers coming from China after almost half of the passengers from two Chinese flights tested positive for COVID.
According to a report from Bloomberg, two separate flights of ill passengers arrived from China at Milan’s Malpensa Airport on Monday.
Guido Bertolaso, the health chief for the Lombardy region, reported that 35 out of 92 passengers on the first flight and 62 passengers out of 120 passengers on the second flight tested positive for the infectious virus.
Officials have isolated the infected passengers and advanced their efforts of contact tracing.
On Wednesday, Italy’s Health Minister Orazio Schillaci announced mandatory tests “for all passengers from China and in transit through Italy.”
Schillaci said that the measure aims to “protect the Italian population” by ensuring “the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus” brought in by passengers from foreign flights.
Health officials will be providing more details on the plan later.
China reversed its strict “zero-COVID” policies earlier this month, spurring the nation’s largest COVID outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. Hospitals were swamped and ambulances were turned away as the facilities overflowed with patients, unable to care for other patients in critical condition.
About 37 million people in China may have been infected on Dec. 20 alone. In the first 20 days of December, the virus infected a total of around 248 million people, which is almost 18% of China’s population.
Government officials from the US and other countries have considered implementing additional restrictions for travelers coming from China.
US officials, who wished to remain anonymous, stated, “There are mounting concerns in the international community on the ongoing COVID-19 surges in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data, being reported from the PRC.”
The officials said that the lack of virus-related data from the Chinese government makes it “increasingly difficult for public health officials to ensure that they will be able to identify any potential new variants and take prompt measures to reduce the spread.”
“The U.S. is following the science and advice of public health experts, consulting with partners, and considering taking similar steps we can take to protect the American people,” they continued.
Several other countries, such as India, Japan, and Malaysia, have already put up additional measures for travelers arriving from China.
Source: New York Post