German doctors call for Covid restrictions on China arrivals

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Several EU countries including France, Italy, and Spain – as well as non-EU countries like the UK and USA – have already imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, over fears of new Covid-19 variants emerging. 

In the event of a strong Covid surge, as is currently the case in China, it is to be expected that the virus will mutate, warned Johannes Nießen, Chairman of the Federal Association of Public Health Service Doctors.

“We now need a uniform protection concept throughout Europe,” Nießen told newspapers in the Funke-Mediengruppe.

“Every traveller from China should be tested with a rapid (Covid) test when entering the EU.”

The rule should apply to everyone, whether business travellers or tourists, he urged. 

In the case of a positive test result, a PCR test should follow, and the sample must be sequenced, Nießen said, adding that those who have Covid-19 need to isolate.

Throughout the pandemic, Nießen has advised the German government as part of an expert council on Covid-19. 

The European Union has not yet decided on a common line on the Covid wave in China. Last week EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides called on member states to review their national measures for monitoring the virus and to ramp them up again if necessary.

READ ALSO: Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

A meeting of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability is scheduled for Wednesday.

The countries that have announced restrictions have so far focused on rules like compulsory tests and masks. In France, post-arrival PCR tests will also be mandatory in the future.

The German government said on Sunday it plans to wait and see for the time being. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) said that a tightening of entry rules in Germany was “not yet necessary.”

But there’s been opposition. The Left Party, for instance, slammed this line and demanded mandatory PCR testing for travellers from China at German airports.

“The news that almost every second passenger from China tested positive for corona at Milan airport is alarming,” said Kathrin Vogler, health policy spokesperson for the Left Party in the Bundestag.

“In order to find out whether travellers from China might be bringing a previously unknown virus variant with them, compulsory PCR testing with sequencing makes sense.”