By Scott Kanowsky
Investing.com -- Shares in European long-haul airlines dropped on Thursday as concerns mount over the impact of the spread of COVID-19 cases in China.
German carrier Deutsche Lufthansa (ETR: LHAG ), as well as rivals Air France KLM (EPA: AIRF ) and International Consolidated Airlines Group (LON: ICAG ), all fell towards the bottom of the pan-European STOXX 600 .
On Thursday, the European Union's Health Security Committee - an informal council advising high-level European officials - called for joint action to address a potential uptick in COVID-19 cases as China begins to lift its long-standing strict pandemic restrictions. Beijing previously announced that it will remove quarantine rules for arrivals on January 8, sparking hopes that the world's second-largest economy may be moving past an era of strict coronavirus regulations. But that optimism is showing signs of fading as cases increase across the country.
"Coordination of national responses to serious cross border threats to health is crucial," said the EU's Health and Security Committee in a tweet.
The statement comes after the U.S. and Italy on Wednesday joined a list of nations - including Japan, India, South Korea, and Taiwan - requiring proof of negative COVID tests for inbound air travelers from China.
Italy's health minister Orazio Schillaci said the move was necessary to "ensure surveillance and detection" of any possible COVID-19 variants. He also urged Brussels to institute a bloc-wide testing rule for incoming travelers from China, arguing that many Chinese passengers enter the country via the EU's free travel area.
Health officials from the northern Italian region of Lombardy stated that high rates of infection have been found on two recent flights coming into Milan's Malpensa airport from China. One of the flights saw 52% of the 120 passengers on board test positive, as did 38% of another flight of 92 passengers.
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