EU bodies release guidelines for flights in response to Covid-19 in China

Pre-departure testing for passengers on direct and indirect flights arriving in the EU from China and wearing of medical face masks or respirators on board the aircraft for both passengers and crew are among recommendations published jointly on January 12 by two EU bodies.

The recommendations, which apply with immediate effect, were compiled by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in response to the Covid-19 situation in China.

The recommendations are aimed at minimising the health safety risk associated with air travel to and from such areas and will contribute to the global monitoring of SARS-COV-2 variants, a statement said.

The aim is to reduce the risk of geographical spread of a potential new variant as well as the likelihood of transmission during air travel.

The publication of the recommendations follows the recent agreement of EU member states on a coordinated precautionary approach in the light of Covid-19 developments in China, the statement said.

It said that the recommendations had been devised in consultation with European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, national aviation and public health authorities, airlines and airports as well as aircraft manufacturers.

The recommendations include pre-departure testing for passengers on direct and indirect flights, wearing of medical face masks or respirators on board the aircraft for both passengers and crew, enhanced cleaning and disinfection of aircraft serving these routes, and, wherever possible, the vaccination status of crew members should be considered before assignment for duty.

They also include random testing may also be carried out on a sample of arriving passengers, such positive tests should be sequenced, so as to gain early information on circulating and any new variants emerging in the region of origin, and waste water should be monitored at airports with international flights and aircraft arriving from China to monitor the level of infection and detect any new variants.

The measures are defined in a way that should not introduce any flight delays or compromise flight safety, the statement said.

It said that the recommendations would be reviewed regularly in alignment with the risk assessment of the epidemiological situations carried out by ECDC and the World Health Organisation and with any review of the currently agreed measures by EU countries at European level. 

(Photo: Rui Caldeira/

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