March 21
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Italy has urged European Union countries to follow suit and screen travelers from China for COVID, but other nations have said they do not yet see the need or are waiting for a common position across the EU, Reuters reports.

EU health officials could not agree on a common course of action, who said they would continue talks later.

This was not the first time EU countries have been divided over policy on COVID. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was much debate about what to do, and competition over the purchase of security equipment erupted.

Italy expects and hopes that the EU will impose mandatory COVID tests on all passengers arriving from China, as Rome has done, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said at a news conference.

The scale of the outbreak in China and doubts about official data have prompted countries including the U.S. and Japan to introduce new travel rules for Chinese visitors as Beijing has lifted its restrictions.

In the EU so far, only Italy requires a COVID-19 test for all travelers arriving from China.  According to Meloni, this may not be effective if other EU members, where people travel freely from one country to another, do not follow suit.

The main airport in the Italian city of Milan began testing passengers arriving from Beijing and Shanghai on Dec. 26 and found that nearly half of them were infected.

But Brigitte Otran, head of the French health risk assessment committee COVARS, said that scientifically, there is no reason at this stage to bring back controls at borders.

According to her, the situation is currently under control and that there are no signs of concern about new variants of COVID in China.

Germany and Portugal also said they saw no need for new travel restrictions, while Austria stressed the economic benefits of Chinese tourists returning to Europe. Norway, which is not an EU member but participates in the bloc's borderless zone agreement, has taken a similar approach.

The U.K. has also said it has no plans to bring back COVID testing for those arriving in the country.

The EU health committee ended its meeting with a call for a united position. It is necessary to act together, and continue the discussions, the European Commission wrote on Twitter, without specifying when talks would resume.

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