Pre-flight testing of passengers from China to be stopped

  • 2023-02-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The EU Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism (IPCR) working group decided that member states will end the pre-flight coronavirus testing requirement for passengers arriving from China by the end of February, but random testing will continue until mid-March.

Similar to Europe, Estonia will continue with monitoring, sequencing of virus strains and vaccination against both influenza and COVID-19, spokespeople for the Ministry of Social Affairs told BNS. 

The working group summarized the precautionary measures in place for travel from China. Since the epidemiological situation in China has improved and the infection-related indicators there are decreasing, it was decided to relax the precautions for traveling from China.

Deputy secretary general at the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs for health policy Heidi Alasepp said that, according to member states, no new dangerous subviruses of COVID-19 have been discovered.

"The substrains found during sequencing coincide with the latest data from the Chinese authorities. The omicron substrains currently circulating in China do not pose an additional threat to the EU healthcare system, as they have also spread within the member states themselves. Although Estonia does not have direct flights with China, the monitoring of virus strains, sequencing of sewage samples and vaccination of risk groups continue to be Estonia's priorities," Alasepp said.

The national expert committee on immunoprophylaxis, a body advising the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, recommends vaccination with the third booster dose for everyone over 80 years of age and for this it is recommended to use a vaccine adapted against omicron substrains BA.4-5.

As the WHO estimates that COVID-19 continues to be a public health emergency of international scope, travel guidelines remain in place. When travelling, it is recommended that all passengers wear a medical or FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask. Staff and passengers on international flights should follow additional recommendations regarding personal hygiene and health safety.

No more meetings of the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism (IPCR) working group regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in China are currently planned, but it will be convened if the need arises.