Europe has agreed on measures to be applied in aviation in response to the COVID-19 situation in China, the non-pharmaceutical measures cover mask-wearing and testing of travelers upon arrival along with other protocols, responsible European authorities announced on Tuesday local time. The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged all countries to implement fact-based and scientific responses.
According to a statement jointly issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the recommendations are aimed at reducing the risk of the geographic spread of a potential new variant and the likelihood of transmission during air travel. The recommendations could also be applied in other geographic regions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin called on countries, which have announced entry restriction measures targeting travelers from China, to make sure that their COVID response measures are fact-based, science-based and proportionate.
COVID response should not be used as a pretext for political manipulation. It should not be discriminatory and should not affect normal cross-border travel and people-to-people exchange and cooperation, Wang said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
The recommended measures will immediately apply for flights arriving in the EU from China. They include pre-departure testing for passengers, wearing of medical face masks or respirators on board, enhanced disinfection, monitoring of wastewater, while random testing may be carried out on arriving passengers.
"It is clear that these measures are temporary and have been designed as a proportionate response, which can be applied in any other comparable situation if there is a regional flare-up of COVID-19," EASA strategy and safety management director Luc Tytgat was quoted in the statement.
The statement stressed that the measures are defined in a way that should not cause any flight delays or compromise flight safety and will be reviewed regularly.
A coalition of airlines and airports including the International Air Transport Association, Airlines for Europe and ACI Europe said in a joint statement on January 5 that "the current surge of COVID-19 cases in China is not expected to impact the epidemiological situation in the EU/EEA," in response to the previously issued recommendations by EU government officials asking for passengers flying from China to the EU to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding.