Chinese Travelers Land in Italy, Half Test Positive for Coronavirus

People wait in front a board showing international flight arrivals at Tokyo's Haneda inter
PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Italy’s decision to take extra precautions with Chinese travelers paid off on Wednesday as two flights from China landed in Milan and half of the passengers tested positive for Covid-19.

Italy was one of four countries that announced they would impose coronavirus restrictions on Chinese travelers because a massive wave of coronavirus infections is ripping across China, racking up millions of cases in a single day — but the tyrannical Chinese government decided to abandon almost all of its disease control protocols with almost no preparation for the consequences, loosen up travel restrictions, and begin handing out passports just in time for the Lunar New Year holiday.

A massive spike in Chinese internet searches for travel reservations and vacation packages occurred on Tuesday as international travel suddenly became available after years of travel prohibitions and citywide lockdowns. 

Italy was one of four countries to correctly deduce that China would not do a very thorough job of screening its outbound passengers for the highly contagious, vaccine-resistant sub-variant of the Omicron strain that has been spreading like wildfire through the vast and vulnerable Chinese population. 

The other nations to swiftly announce precautionary measures were Japan, India, and Taiwan. In addition to mandatory coronavirus tests, Japan is sharply limiting flights from China, funneling all Chinese passengers into four airports. Flights from China to Japan were nevertheless described as “sold out” by the South China Morning Post on Wednesday.

A passenger administers a self-collected nasal swab on the first day of a new rapid COVID-19 testing site for arriving international passengers at Los Angeles International Airport on December 3, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Italy subjected its two planeloads of incoming Chinese passengers who landed in Milan on Wednesday to mandatory testing, and the results were not good.

“On the first flight, out of 92 passengers 35 (38%) are positive. On the second, out of 120 passengers 62 (52%) are positive,” Lombardy regional councilor for welfare Guido Bertolaso said at a news conference, as quoted by Sky News.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said mandatory testing for Chinese travelers is “essential to ensure surveillance and detection of possible variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population.”

“Travel services companies and Qunar said international ticket bookings and searches for visa information on their websites rose five to eight times after the announcement. Top destinations included Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the United States, Britain and Australia,” Sky News reported, fearing a “haunting repeat” of the 2020 worldwide pandemic.

The United States became the fifth country to impose special restrictions on Chinese travelers on Wednesday night, requiring negative Covid test results for travelers two and older beginning on January 5. U.S. health officials cited the lack of reliable data from China as one of the reasons for its travel policy.


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