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Passengers being checked as they disembark from a plane carrying French citizens flown out of coronavirus epicentre Wuhan, upon their arrival at an air base in southeastern France. Photo: ECPAD via AFP

Europe could consider US-style coronavirus travel ban, say ministers

  • Authorities seek ‘coherent vision’ on possible restrictions on visitors amid deadly outbreak
  • Beijing has accused US of spreading ‘panic’ by denying entry to foreigners who have recently been to China

European governments could consider a US-style ban on foreign visitors who have recently been to China, in a bid to impede the spread of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the health ministers of France and Germany said on Tuesday.

“Indeed, there is the question of possible travel restrictions or at least increased examination [of travellers] at the border,” Germany’s Jens Spahn said at a meeting in Paris with his French counterpart Agnes Buzyn.

He was responding to a question about whether Europe would consider a ban similar to that imposed by the United States, which China has accused of spreading “panic”.

“It makes no sense that a single country takes measures” on a continent with border-free travel between most nations, said Spahn.

The new coronavirus has killed more than 400 people and infected a further 20,000 in China since emerging in December and has now spread to more than 20 other countries.

Buzyn agreed that travel restriction “is one of the questions for European ministers. We must have a coherent vision in the [passport-free] Schengen area”.

“There is no sense in one country taking this type of decision while citizens move around freely.”

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Buzyn said they would ask the Croatian presidency of the EU Council to call a meeting of health ministers within days to discuss further measures needed in the face of the coronavirus crisis.


“We would like … closer cooperation so that we have exactly the same measures in all countries in order to be consistent in Europe since there is this free movement of people, and we wish to maintain this free movement.”

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