Malta has no immediate plans to introduce testing for travellers originating from China, according to a government spokesman.

The government was asked if it was considering introducing measures after Italy imposed mandatory testing on Wednesday.

Malta is assessing the situation and is in direct communication with the European Commission and ECDC for any actions which need to be taken- Government spokesperson

The move comes in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases in China following a relaxation of the country’s zero-COVID policy, making it significantly easier for Chinese citizens to travel abroad.

“Malta is assessing the situation and is in direct communication with the European Commission and ECDC [European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control] for any actions which need to be taken.

“At present, the European Health Security Council is not yet recommending compulsory testing for travellers from China,” said the government spokesperson.

Fears of new strain

The recent surge in cases has fuelled fears of the emergence of new strains of the virus.

A growing number of countries, including the US, have imposed restrictions on all visitors from mainland China after Beijing decided to end mandatory quarantine on arrival, prompting many jubilant Chinese to make plans to travel abroad.

Passengers arriving at Spanish airports from China will be screened for COVID, Madrid’s health minister said on Friday, following an explosion of cases in China.

Travellers will have to show “proof that they are negative... or a full vaccination list”, Health Minister Carolina Darias told a press conference.

But the European Union’s health agency said on Thursday that such restrictions were not warranted in the bloc.

Restrictions 'understandable'

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier urged China to be more forthcoming on the pandemic and said it was “understandable” that some countries had introduced restrictions in response to its COVID-19 surge, AFP reported.

China insists that all the COVID data it has shared – including with the World Health Organisation – has been transparent, despite its hospitals being overwhelmed and its official figures on infections and deaths being tiny compared with other countries.

A national disease control body in China said there were about 5,500 new local cases and one death yesterday but, with the end of mass testing and the narrowing of criteria for what counts as a COVID fatality, those numbers are no longer believed to reflect reality. Some experts estimate there may be as many as 9,000 daily deaths.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said last week it would no longer release an official daily COVID death toll.

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