Cyprus should follow EU recommendations on handling travellers from China following the latest wave of COVID-19 infections sweeping the country, said EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.
In comments to state radio CyBC, Kyriakides confirmed that European nations on Wednesday recommended imposing new restrictions on travellers from China amid fears of an increase in Covid cases.
“Passengers departing from China will have to present a negative Covid test before leaving the country if heading towards an EU country.
“They will also likely be asked to wear facial masks during the flights and potentially be subjected to random testing on arrival,” said Kyriakides.
Travellers from China must take a COVID-19 test no more than 48 hours before their flight.
The Health Commissioner said the recommendations were made by the EU Health Security Committee and will be ratified Thursday by EU member states.
“Unity and uniformity in decisions are the Union’s biggest weapon in the fight to end the pandemic”.
She noted that despite the high-level alarm, member states are fairly protected against a new wave of infections from the spike of cases in China due to high vaccine coverage and the fact variants prevailing in China have been circulating in Europe for some months.
Also on CyBC radio, the head of medical services, Dr Elisavet Constantinou, said Cyprus is expected to follow EU recommendations.
Constantinou said that the recommendations made by the HSC would be discussed at a meeting between Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela and government advisers next Tuesday.
“Experts will discuss measures, and then the recommendations are expected to be forwarded to the cabinet for approval on Wednesday,” said Constantinou.
Virologist and former lead government adviser Dr Leondios Kostrikis said the EU decision to impose pre-departure COVID tests on travellers from China appears to be political, not based on science.
Kostrikis, who runs a biotechnology and molecular virology lab at the University of Cyprus, says Europe exaggerates its response.
“The current surge in China is waning, and the worst of cases is already over,” Kostrikis said.
He argued that the variants prevailing in China have been appearing in genome sequencing in Cyprus since August.