Italy is pushing the rest of the European Union to follow its lead in requiring travelers from China to take COVID-19 tests as cases in that country rapidly increase.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said at a press conference on Thursday that her nation hopes the EU will impose mandatory coronavirus tests for all travelers from China. But EU officials did not immediately agree on a single course of action in response to the rising cases in China.
After a few years of pursuing a “zero COVID” strategy in which Chinese officials sought to keep cases to as close to zero as possible, authorities have begun lifting some restrictions following nationwide protests.
But the loosening of rules has allowed coronavirus cases to soar as not enough people have gotten vaccinated or built up natural immunity through getting the virus over the past three years.
The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it would impose a testing requirement for all travelers who are at least 2 years old arriving in the United States from China. The policy will start on Thursday and affect anyone coming from China, Hong Kong or Macau, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.
EU officials vowed to continue its discussions in finding a singular approach to the situation. Meloni said requiring COVID-19 tests from all passengers from China only works if it is implemented across the EU, adding that many might come to Italy on connecting flights from other countries.
Those living in almost all member states of the EU can easily travel from country to country without a visa.
More than 50 percent of the people screened at Milan’s Malpensa airport tested upon arrival in recent days were positive for the virus.
The EU’s health security committee said in a statement that the body needs to act quickly, but a spokesman for the German Health Ministry said there is no indication that a more dangerous variant has developed in China, which would warrant added travel restrictions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.