Thursday, May 27, 2021

ECDC Warns EU: Testing Alone Is Not Enough to Ensure Safe Travel Within the Block

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) doesn’t think that only testing for COVID-19 to avoid entry restrictions for travellers in the EU is enough to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 from incoming travellers.

Speaking on the matter, the ECDC director, Andrea Amon, explained that only a portion of the EU’s population has received COVID-19 vaccines, meaning that the virus is still active and “testing alone doesn’t do the trick” for Europeans to travel freely, reports.

“We should keep in mind that the proof of a full-course vaccination, prior infection or lack of current infection as defined by a PCR [test], which are the three elements that are included in the certificate, have very different levels of certainty regarding the risk of the individual,” Ammon added during a POLITICO event.

Further on, Ammon noted that a negative COVID-19 test is only a “snapshot” that does not ensure certainty in preventing disease transmission, despite the two-doses vaccination does reduce the risk of infection.

According to him, even if someone tests negative but doesn’t respect social distancing, that person is still exposed to the risk of getting infected, maybe even before the negative test result is available.

The European Council and Parliament recently reached the agreement to establish the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, which will serve as evidence to prove if the holder has been vaccinated against the virus, has recovered from the disease in the recent months or tested negative for COVID-19 within the timeframe set by the EU destination country. These three are expected to be individual certificates and ease citizens movement across Europe.

The EU Parliament will vote on the first reading position on the matter, on June 7 to 10, at its plenary session. After the legislation gets adopted, it will be published in the Official Journey of the EU and be effective starting on July 1.

In a bid to make COVID-19 testing more accessible, the EU Commission has decided to allocate at least €100 million through the Emergency Support Instrument to assist the Member States to offer free or affordable COVID-19 tests to travellers, especially those that cross the border frequently.

The Parliament has advised the Member States not to impose additional travel restrictions unless unavoidable and in proportion with safeguarding public health.

In cases when the EU members see it necessary to impose additional entry measures, the Members of the European Parliament have suggested epidemiological figures by ECDC must be considered, and all new applied measures should be reported to the Commission and the Member States at least 48 hours before imposing them.

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