Bloomberg reported on Wednesday (28 Dec) that the Italian authorities have found almost half of the passengers on two flights to Milan were infected with COVID-19.
As a result, Italy announced that all travellers from China will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival.
The authorities are also sequencing the Milan tests to see if there are new variants coming from China, the Italian Health Ministry said in a statement.
If a new strain is found, officials may impose stricter curbs on travel from the country.
The two flights of sick passengers had actually arrived at Milan Malpensa Airport from China on Monday (26 Dec 2022).
On the first flight, 35 out of 92 passengers tested positive for the virus, while on the second, 62 passengers out of 120 were infected, according to Lombardy region’s health chief Guido Bertolaso.
As a result, Italy’s Health Minister Orazio Schillaci on Wednesday announced that tests would be required “for all passengers from China and in transit through Italy.”
“The measure is essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population,” Schillaci said, adding that further details of the plan will be provided later.
China has dropped its zero-COVID policy and the sudden change has spurred China’s largest outbreak of COVID infections since the start of the pandemic. It left hospitals swamped, turning away ambulances and unable to care for some critical patients.
Some 37 million people may have contracted COVID-19 in China on 20 December alone, and as many as 248 million people — nearly 18% of China’s population — came down with the virus in the first 20 days of December.
In addition to Italy, countries like Japan, US, India and Malaysia have also implemented preventive measures for travellers coming from China. At the least, they are required to produce a COVID negative test result before they are allowed to enter those countries.
Singapore does not require COVID negative test result to enter
Meanwhile, despite many netizens expressing concerns over the influx of possible sick travellers from China, the Health Ministry (MOH) run by Ong Ye Kung continues to maintain its prevailing COVID-19 rules.
That is, travellers from China do not need to produce any COVID negative test result to enter Singapore. Also, Singapore does not test any of them for COVID-19 on arrival.
ICA only said on its website, “All other travellers aged 13 and above may enter Singapore as per normal without testing or quarantine, only if they have taken minimum WHO-EUL vaccine dosage.”
MOH categorically states that the prevailing border measures and vaccination requirements for travellers and work pass holders arriving from China remain unchanged. But it did say it is closely monitoring the situation.
It has been reported that mainland Chinese are flocking to travel sites, even as people are dying from COVID-19 in China. Data from the travel platform Ctrip showed that searches for popular destinations had increased 10-fold.
Data from another platform, Qunar, showed that within 15 minutes of the news of China scrapping its zero-COVID policy, searches for international flights jumped seven-fold.