COVID19: EU buying time for Omicron response

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Measures taken by the European Union hope to buy time for scientists to analyse the Omicron variant and contain the situation as the COVID-19 pandemic takes a new twist.

“I prefer that in two or three weeks, we will consider our response as somewhat excessive, rather than miscalculating the possible risks from this mutation,” Stella Kyriakides, the Cypriot EU Health Commissioner, said.

Addressing a group of Cyprus journalists in Brussels, Kyrakides revealed that she sent a letter to the Health Ministers of the 27 member states, highlighting four points.

Kyriakides asked ministers to continue with vaccinations, booster shots, continue implementing personal protection measures, and strengthen contact tracing and sequencing to trace the Omicron variant.

Referring to an extraordinary meeting she had Monday with the G7 Health Ministers, chaired by the UK, Kyriakides said it focused on “discussing matters pertaining to the new Omicron variant, the need for coordination, the need to proceed with vaccination programs and personal protection measures, to buy time for scientists to analyse this new variant.”

“We expect in the next few days more new cases of this variant to emerge in all countries; therefore, every one of us must be aware and take all necessary measures.”

She said the EU’s decision to activate the “emergency brake” on travel from countries in southern African was “important to have two weeks to contain the spread, as much as possible, so that scientists can study the variant.”

Commenting on a call by the World Health Organization to keep the borders open and implement any restrictions on a scientific basis, Kyriakides said: “We are not in favour of closing borders.”

She also said that there shouldn’t be a sense that countries from this region are being punished and lauded the transparency and immediate notification of the COVID variant from South Africa. (source CNA)