Nearly half of the passengers on two recent flights from China to Milan tested positive for COVID-19, Italian health officials said on Wednesday.
About 38 percent of passengers on one flight into Milan’s Malpensa Airport tested positive for COVID-19, as did about 52 percent of those on a second flight, according to local officials in Italy’s Lombardy region.
Italy will begin testing all new arrivals from China and sequencing the tests for new variants amid China’s surge in COVID-19 cases, Italy’s health minister said on Wednesday.
“The measure is essential to ensure surveillance and detection of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population,” Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said.
Several other countries, including Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia, have already instituted similar requirements, with U.S. officials considering following suit, according to CBS News.
After walking back its strict “zero COVID” policies this month following a series of mass protests, China has faced a surge in cases that has reportedly overwhelmed hospitals.
While official numbers remain low, an internal estimate suggested that nearly 250 million people may have caught COVID-19 in the first 20 days of the month, the Financial Times reported last week.