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Screening travellers from China unjustified - EU

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The EU's disease agency has said the screening of travellers from China for Covid-19 would be "unjustified".

On Thursday, Italy urged the rest of the EU to follow its lead and ensure Chinese arrivals were tested, and quarantined if necessary.

The US, Japan, Taiwan and India also recently announced mandatory testing, as China deals with a Covid surge.

But the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said the surge was "not expected to impact" the EU.

In a statement, the ECDC said:

Concerns were raised after Chinese authorities decided to let people travel more freely from 8 January, after almost three years of largely-closed borders.

EU health officials held talks in Brussels on Thursday to co-ordinate any response. The ECDC added: "We remain vigilant and will be ready to use the emergency brake if necessary."

The EU can issue recommendations, but each nation is free to make their own policies, like Italy.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said her country's efforts to curb Covid-19 transmissions from China would be undermined if other EU countries did not follow suit.

In the UK, a minister said the issue was "under review".

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said testing visitors from China, Hong Kong and Macau was needed "to help slow the spread of the virus as we work to identify... any potential new variants that may emerge".

China's National Health Commission published its most recent daily Covid data on 24 December, registering 4,128 new cases the day before.

But analysts say such numbers are a vast underestimate - and the daily case load may be closer to a million.

On Thursday, British health data firm Airfinity said 9,000 people in China could be dying from Covid-19 each day - almost double its previous daily estimate.

Despite the official numbers being low, the World Health Organization has warned the healthcare system in China could be under severe pressure.

As Covid surges in China, some nearby countries have moved swiftly to announce restrictions.