Italy is making coronavirus testing mandatory for visitors from China after a blast in cases in China, the health minister said on Wednesday.
“I have ordered mandatory Covid-19 antigen swabs and associated virus sequencing for all passengers arriving from China and transiting through Italy,” Minister Orazio Schillaci said.
The measure is “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of all variants of the virus to protect the Italian population,” he said.
Coronavirus infections have surged in China as it lifts tough controls that have torpedoed the economy and sparked nationwide protests.
Italy’s northern region of Lombardy rolled out the screening from Tuesday, a day before the measure rolled out nationwide.
Lombardy, the first region to impose a lockdown in early 2020 when the coronavirus hit Europe, is testing arrivals from China at Milan’s Malpensa Airport until at least January 30, the foreign ministry said.
Swabs collected in Malpensa over the past few days are already being analyzed by the National Health Ministry to help identify new variants.
© Agence France-Presse