MADRID – The main concern after the explosion in coronavirus infections in China is the “possibility of new variants that are not under control,” said Carolina Darias, Spain’s health minister. Consequently, Spain will ask travellers from China for a negative Covid test or the full vaccination schedule.
The minister announced these new restrictions for travellers from China on Friday. The Spanish government thus responds to the high transmission of the coronavirus in China, which will soon lift all restrictive measures, amongst which also the travel restrictions for Chinese people.
EU member states will maintain ‘active supervision’
On Thursday, there was an urgent emergency meeting of the European Union’s Health Security Committee (HSC). Here, EU member states have agreed to “actively monitor in the face of the apparent explosion of coronavirus infections in China”. It also resulted in a commitment to keep in touch to explore possible joint initiatives, such as those already publicly requested by Italy.
Concern about the possibility of new variants
“There is a shared concern at the international and national level about the development of infections in China. Also the difficulty of correctly assessing the situation due to the scarce information available. China’s case is unique because of the ‘zero’ policy that Covid-19 has had or because of low vaccination rates,” Darias noted. She emphasised the “concern” that new uncontrolled variants other than the existing ones may appear.
Later, the Ministry of Health advised Spanish travellers with China as their destination or origin that they have a full vaccination schedule and that they maintain precautions. The importance of vaccinating with the second booster dose adapted to variants was emphasised, especially for vulnerable people.
Extra check at Madrid airport
Similarly, the Madrid government requested the ministry to step up the control of Adolfo Suarez-Madrid-Barajas airport and to take other control measures. In response to the news from China, President Ayuso of the region has even ordered the preventive activation of the anti-Covid protocol in nursing homes and reinforcement of the Isabel Zendal Hospital, given the news from China.
Digital Covid Certificate
Furthermore, Darias has reported that, in addition to providing a negative Covid-19 test or the full vaccination schedule, the General Directorate of Public Health, in collaboration with AENA, is working on a document to request the digital Covid certificate, or similar document, to travellers from China.
Possible handling of positively tested passengers
Public Health, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior, also wants to issue a border order by the request for the digital certificate. In addition, it will hold meetings with the autonomous communities that have direct flights to China for possible handling of Covid-19 positive passengers. This mainly concerns airports in Madrid and Barcelona.
Minister Darias also assured that she is in “permanent contact” with international organisations to “closely monitor” the situation and to assess and adopt measures at all times based on the evolution of the situation.
The lack of information from China is worrying
“The pandemic has taught us many lessons. We have a robust surveillance system, and a very strong vaccination strategy and it’s about maintaining this situation. We monitor and obtain information through various channels. However, we know that the lack of information from China on precise numbers is one of the most worrying problems,” the health minister stressed.