EU recommends pre-flight testing for passengers from China, Estonia focuses on surveillance and sequencing

10.01.2023 | 09:30

At the meeting of the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism (IPCR) working group, the member states decided to recommend pre-flight testing of passengers arriving from China for COVID-19. With no direct flights from China, Estonia focuses on surveillance and sequencing viral strains to detect dangerous new strains as early as possible. Vaccination against both flu and COVID-19 is still preferred way to avoid overloading of national healthcare system.
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The Baltic Times: According to the joint conclusions and recommendations adopted by the member states, it is recommended that passengers wear a medical or FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask when traveling to and from China. Additional personal hygiene and health safety advice will be provided to staff and passengers on international flights involving China.

It is strongly encouraged to introduce a requirement for all travelers from China to member states to present a negative pre-flight coronavirus test result, taken no earlier than 48 hours before departure from China. These measures are supported by monitoring and sequencing of virus strains in member states. These might include random testing of travelers arriving from China for the coronavirus. Samples that test positive are sequenced to determine the virus strain. Monitoring and sequencing of wastewater will be carried out both from the wastewater of aircraft arriving from China and at international airports.

Deputy secretary general at the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs for health policy Heidi Alasepp said that, on the Estonian side, the coordination and performance of monitoring and sequencing of virus strains is carried out by the Health Board. The Health Board will start sequencing wastewater this week in cooperation with the University of Tartu. This week's results will be announced in the new week.

"Member states agreed that risk groups, especially those aged 60+, should definitely get booster doses. I recommend it to anyone for whom more than six months have passed since their last vaccination or recovery. Also, especially risk groups should get vaccinated against the flu," Alasepp said. Europe has learned to act quickly with the experience from previous crises. The decision is based on the recommendations of the European Commission and the proposals of the European Health Security Committee, which includes the member states. The requirements must be implemented by each member state on the basis of its national law according to country-specific differences.

In mid-January, the European Union member states will assess the situation and re-examine the established measures.

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