After a meeting today, the health authorities of the 27-member bloc said, in a statement, that it is necessary to “act together and continue the discussions”, in the face of the galloping increase in infections in China.

Considering the reluctance of several countries and European experts, the Health Security Committee of the 27 assured that it will continue the talks on the search for a common approach to travel rules, but without acting yet, as requested by Italy.

"We remain vigilant and will be ready to use the emergency brake if necessary," said the European Commission, which chairs the Committee.

The BF.7 variant of omicron, the predominant one in China, was already circulating in Europe and its threat has not grown significantly, maintained the Commission, which brought together senior health officials from the 27 members of the Committee.

While virus experts across the EU have played down the immediate danger, Italy has made coronavirus tests mandatory for anyone arriving from China at its airports. More than 50% of people screened on arrival at Milan's Malpensa airport in recent days have tested positive for the virus.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has increased pressure on the EU to adhere to her government's approach, saying that Italy testing all passengers from China "is only effective if [this] is done at European level", noting that many arrive on connecting flights via other European countries.

Germany considers that "there are no indications that a more dangerous variant has developed in this outbreak in China", said the spokesman of the Ministry of Health, Sebastian Guelde.

After strict travel restrictions at the height of the pandemic, the EU returned this autumn to a pre-pandemic free travel system, but member countries agreed that an "emergency brake" could, if necessary, be activated at short notice to face an unexpected challenge.

"On a scientific level, there is no reason at this stage to re-impose specific border controls," Professor Brigitte Autran, a vaccine specialist at the French Ministry of Health, told Radio Classique today.

Portugal does not foresee the reinforcement of measures to control and mitigate the pandemic, according to a written response to questions from the Lusa regarding the increase in SARS-CoV-2 infections in China.

The Ministry of Health assured that the Portuguese authorities are monitoring the epidemiological situation "in conjunction with European partners and international organisations, namely within the scope of the activity of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control".

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