The European Union's Health Security Committee called an urgent meeting in Brussels on Thursday to coordinate the bloc's response to China's decision to lift its COVID-19 restrictions amid a wave of infections there, the European Commission said.
Chinese hospitals and funeral homes were under intense pressure as a surge of new COVID-19 cases drained resources. The scale of the outbreak and doubts over official data prompted the United States, India, Italy, Taiwan and Japan to impose new travel rules on Chinese visitors.
"The EU Health Security Committee is meeting ... to discuss the COVID-19 situation in China and possible measures to be taken in a coordinated way," the European Commission's health directorate general said in a tweet.
A Commission official said the meeting started in the morning. It was not clear when it would end.
The Health Security Committee is composed of officials from health ministries across the 27-nation bloc and chaired by the Commission. It has met frequently at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe to coordinate policies.
In an abrupt change of policy, China this month began dismantling the world's strictest COVID-19 regime of lockdowns and extensive testing, putting its battered economy on course for a complete re-opening next year.
The lifting of restrictions, following widespread protests against them, means COVID-19 is spreading largely unchecked and likely infecting millions of people a day, according to some international health experts.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Tomasz Janowski)