"As of midnight on January 7, 2023, passengers on flights from China will be subject to random testing, but on a mandatory basis", reads a statement from the Ministry of Health, adding that "Passengers from that country will have to present, at the time of boarding, a negative test, PCR or TRAg, carried out no later than 48 hours before the start of the flight".

Portugal now joins Austria, Germany, Sweden and Belgium, which had already announced that they will require tests from travellers from China.

The measure comes after the European Union "strongly" recommended that Member States require all travellers from China to test negative for covid-19, following the unprecedented wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections that have spread in the Asian country since the authorities abandoned the so-called “covid zero” policy.

According to the statement from the Ministry of Health (MS), the random tests, which will already be applied to the flight from China that lands in Lisbon on Saturday, will be used to carry out the genomic sequencing of the variants in circulation, "in order to contribute to the scientific knowledge and the adequate assessment of the epidemiological situation, which will guide the options in the immediate future".

The authorities will also apply wastewater monitoring mechanisms at Humberto Delgado International Airport, in Lisbon, and on planes coming from China, with a view to identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes covid-19, and subsequent genomic sequencing.

The Ministry of Health also says that passengers and crew on flights to and from China "must wear a mask during the flight and reinforce hygiene measures, namely hand washing and disinfection".

"Portugal will continue to monitor compliance with these measures in the context of the European Union and taking into account the permanent exchange of information with other Member States and with international health organizations", adds the note.