The Netherlands has no plans yet to follow Spain, Italy and France in introducing compulsory coronavirus tests for visitors from China, but some measures to monitor potential cases have been brought in, health minister Ernst Kuipers has told MPs.
All visitors from China will be offered a voluntary test on arrival at Schiphol from Thursday and the public health institute RIVM has also been asked to monitor coronavirus particles in waste water around the airport to check for new variants, Kuipers said.
In addition, he said, there is currently no legal basis to impose restrictions specifically on travellers from China. ‘Should the situation in China worsen, then may it be necessary to consider such measures and bring in legislation quickly,’ he said.
Legislation which would make unilateral measures an option is currently pending in the senate.
Virologists have told Dutch media that specific restrictions on people from China would prove pointless because the virus is so widespread.
Air travel restrictions ‘are always too late and people can move around without planes,’ Utrecht UMC microbiologist Marc Bonten told broadcaster NOS. In addition, he pointed out, infection rates are also high outside China.
Epidemiologist Alma Tostmann, from Radboud teaching hospital in Nijmegen, said on Twitter that there is a point to testing in order to find out about different variants.
testen om varianten te checken: heel verstandig.
Testen als bestrijdingsmaatregel: heeft voor NL weinig zin.
beter is het om te blijven oproepen dat China zelf de data en informatie deelt; infectieziekten kennen geen grenzen, en informatie is key. https://t.co/A6HnQFi4nC
— Alma Tostmann 💛💙 (@AlmaTostmann) January 2, 2023
However, testing by the Netherlands as a preventative measure is pointless, she said. Instead more pressure should be put on China to provide data and information. ‘Infectious diseases know no boundaries,’ she said on Twitter. ‘Information is key.’
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