The Portuguese Ministry of Health requires all passengers on flights from China to show a negative test for Covid-19 when boarding a flight to this European country. Initially the Portuguese authorities subjected, randomly, passengers on flights from China to tests, but since Sunday that citizens “from that country will have to submit, at the time of boarding, a negative test, PCR or TRAg, performed within 48 hours before the start of the flight.
According to the statement from the Ministry of Health (MoH), random tests were initially used to make the genomic sequencing of the variants in circulation, “in order to contribute to scientific knowledge and proper evaluation of the epidemiological situation, which will guide the options in the immediate future.
Portugal thus joins Austria, Germany, Sweden and Belgium, who had already announced they will require testing of travelers from China.
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The move comes after the European Union “strongly” recommended that member states require all travelers from China to test negative for Covid-19, following the unprecedented wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the Asian country since authorities abandoned the so-called “zero covid” policy. The authorities have also implemented wastewater monitoring mechanisms at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado International Airport and on aircraft arriving from China, with a view to identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, and subsequent genomic sequencing.
Now, and since Sunday at 00:00, passengers coming from China will have to present, at the time of boarding, a negative test, PCR or TRAg, performed up to 48 hours before the beginning of the flight, being the airlines responsible for the fulfillment of the measure.
The Ministry of Health also says that passengers and crew on flights to and from China “should wear a mask during the flight and reinforce hygiene measures, including hand washing and disinfection. “Portugal will continue to monitor compliance with these measures in the context of the European Union and taking into account the permanent exchange of information with other member states and international health organizations,” the note adds.
The ministry recalls the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) risk assessment of December 22, 2022, according to which “the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in China is not expected to have an impact on the epidemiological situation in the European Union (EU), considering the vaccination coverage of the population, the knowledge and preparedness of health systems.” Still, he recalls that “in this period, when there are more respiratory viruses in circulation, health authorities recommend the adoption of individual protection measures.
Exemplifies with the measures of respiratory etiquette, frequent hand washing, ventilation of spaces and recommends additional measures in contexts of higher risk of exposure, such as spaces with crowds of people, especially without adequate ventilation, through the distance and the possible use of masks.
“Finally, all eligible persons are once again urged to have the vaccination or booster dose against Covid-19, the most important individual and population protection measure in the face of this and other future threats regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” the statement concluded.
EU authorities have also recommended that all passengers on flights to and from China wear masks, random testing of passengers upon arrival in member states, and sequencing of all positive results.
In late December, China announced the reopening of its borders for the 8th, which caused several countries to decide, in recent days, to require travelers coming from China to test negative for Covid-19 to enter their territories.
France, Spain, Japan and the United States, among other countries, had already decided over the past few days to require tests for travelers from China, and Morocco even announced a ban on travelers from China. Beijing, for its part, considered these measures unacceptable.
“We believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable. We firmly oppose attempts to manipulate Covid measures for political purposes and will take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning.
Este artigo está disponível em: Português