‘Germany’s epidemic won’t affect flight policy with China’

By Wang Qi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/2 23:03:40

Demonstrators march down the Friedrichstrasse street as they protest against the current measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in Berlin, Germany on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Faced with a COVID-19 resurgence in Europe and foreign employees' need to return to China, public health experts said the current situation is unlikely to seriously affect China and change the current arrangement of international flights. 

Germany recorded 955 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday for the first time since the beginning of May, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's agency for disease control and prevention.

Overseas Chinese in Germany told the Global Times that the second wave in Europe is a result of imported cases fueled by travel within countries and because people have let down their guard, as they want to participate in public leisure activities.

Reuters reported that thousands of people in Berlin protested against the German government's restrictions to curb the resurgence, which features hundreds of new cases daily. CNN reported that most protesters violated social distancing rules and did not wear a mask.

Although flights in August and September between the Chinese mainland and Germany will be increased to  five round trips per week, many Germans who work in China cannot return anyway because of visa restrictions on the entry of foreigners to the Chinese mainland which has been in place since late March. 

In order to help German companies in China bring back urgently required personnel, the German Chamber of Commerce in China said they are organizing three charter flights from Frankfurt to Qingdao, Shandong Province, in close cooperation with Chinese authorities on the basis of current travel regulations.

Some analysts are concerned that an epidemic resurgence in Germany would affect the flight policy between the two sides and if there could be more imported cases. 

Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times on Sunday that the resurgence of the virus in Europe and Germany is unlikely to lead to a sweeping change in flight arrangements, as China has already set up a complete epidemic prevention and control systems at customs. 

The German Chamber of Commerce in China posted on its website that Chinese authorities requires a "triple security procedure," one test prior to departure and two more after arrival for each passenger. The test result has to be negative and is only valid if it was conducted 48 hours or less before departure. Further tests during the arrival quarantine and one last test at the end of the 14 days quarantine will be conducted.

The health and safety of foreign workers returning to China is also part of China's work resumption and both China and Germany should attach great importance to it, Yang said.

Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times that even if there are sporadic outbreaks, the main battle is at the airport customs.

There are risks but they can be dealt with. If imported cases are found, China can concentrate its resources to ensure the virus is eradicated to stop its spread, he said. 

China needs to pay more attention to the epidemic in different countries, conduct risk classification and assessment and carry out flexible flight policies, said Wang, noting that more efforts on COVID-19 screening are needed in different countries before flight departure. 

Germany's health minister recently announced plans to make airport tests mandatory for people returning from at-risk areas. The initial plan was to provide the tests free, but on a voluntary basis, media reported. 

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