Health minister Ernst Kuipers has called on the senate to reconvene to debate urgent legislation which will allow the Netherlands to impose restrictions on travellers from China in line with EU recommendations to tackle coronavirus.
The senate is on holiday until January 16 but Kuipers says it must return early to deal with the draft legislation, which was approved by the lower house mid December.
Kuipers says the legislation is needed to be able to introduce restrictions on visitors from China, as the EU is now suggesting. The number of coronavirus cases in China have soared since the country lifted all measures put in place to contain the virus.
Kuipers has also asked the government’s coronavirus Outbreak Management Team (OMT) for its advice.
On Wednesday, EU countries agreed to bring in a ‘coordinated approach’ to visitors from China after several countries brought in unilateral measures. In particular, EU countries are being ‘strongly encouraged’ to demand Covid tests from passengers coming from China.
EU ministers also recommended that passengers to and from China wear face masks, that EU countries conduct random tests on arrivals and test waste water from flights from China.
The Netherlands, Kuipers said, is not yet able to require visitors from China to take a coronavirus test before leaving because there is no legal basis to do so.
However, new arrivals at Schiphol airport are being offered free tests and the public health institute RIVM has increased its surveillance of waste water to check for coronavirus particles.
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