Italy wants EU to follow its lead on mandatory COVID tests for China arrivals

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks during a news conference in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Italy expects and hopes that the European Union will follow its lead on imposing mandatory COVID tests for all passengers flying in from China, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday.

She said Italy's measures risked "not being fully effective" if not extended across the EU, and indicated that preliminary tests showed that COVID-positive travellers from China have already known Omicron variants.

"We expect and hope that the EU will want to act in this manner," Meloni told an end-of-year press conference in Rome.

The prime minister, who criticised national lockdown measures while she was in opposition, said she did not believe that the reintroduction of restrictive measures would be the best way to face a possible new COVID crisis.

As the Italian leader was speaking, top health officials from the EU were holding talks in Brussels to try to coordinate very different views on how to respond to China's decision to lift its COVID-19 restrictions amid a wave of infections there.

(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni, Gavin Jones, additional reporting Angelo Amante and Emilio Parodi, writing by Alvise Armellini, editing by Tomasz Janowski)