Italian health minister suggests Covid swab testing at all EU airports

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Italian health minister suggests Covid swab testing at all EU airports
Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo: AFP

All travellers at airports across Europe should be swab tested for the novel coronavirus, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza proposed on Wednesday.


"Therefore if someone from Italy goes to Madrid or Paris they are tested on arrival, and so is someone from Spain or France who arrives in Italy," he said in an address to the Italian Senate. "Clearly the measure must be implemented for all citizens, regardless of nationality."
He said the current situation across the EU, in which some countries enforce mandatory testing for travellers coming from certain other countries, is causing diplomatic tensions.
Quarantine rules and Italy's policy of mandatory swabs for people returning from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain is being perceived as "unfriendly", he said.
"Since we have to live with the virus for several months, let's work on the reciprocity of measures and between large European countries we can set a good example. Let us test each other, starting at the airports," he said, according to Italian news agency AGI.
Speranza suggested such a policy could remove the need for stricter measures like border closures in future.
He said Italy would formally present the proposal at a meeting of EU health ministers this Friday.
While the number of new Covid-19 cases detected in Italy has risen again in recent weeks, it is still far lower than that in some other European countries such as neighbouring France and Spain.


Italian government health advisors deny there is a "second wave" on the way and insist the new outbreaks can be kept under control with more proactive testing and tracing.
Italian authorities reported 1,326 new cases on Wednesday and four more fatalities. Overall, Italy has seen 271,515 cases and 35,497 Covid-19-related deaths since the beginning of the outbreak
Speranza also told senators on Wednesday that Italy's current rules aimed at stemming the spread of the virus - including on travel, mask-wearing and social distancing - would be extended beyond September 7th, when they are up for review.


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