The Commission has presented immediate short-term measures to strengthen EU health preparedness for COVID-19 outbreaks. The Commission has from the outset coordinated the exchange of information and recommendations with regard to cross border health actions and measures. A continued vigilance and fast response from the Commission and the Member States is essential to ensure that the spread of the virus can be contained and new, generalised lockdowns can be avoided.
Priority actions for national authorities, the Commission and EU Agencies
- Increased testing coverage, contact tracing and surveillance by public health bodies to map clusters in order to contain the spread of outbreaks. In addition to the Communication, the Commission adopted today an Implementing Decision to support interoperability of mobile tracing and warning apps across national borders in the EU.
- Ensuring the smooth supply of personal protective equipment, medicines and medical devices through mechanisms such as emergency joint procurements and strategic EU stockpiles.
- Maintaining rapid access to public health surge capacities without neglecting other areas of healthcare, including through financial support for the transport of medical personnel and patients between Member States and the coordination of the deployment of emergency medical teams and equipment to requesting countries through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
- Provision of targeted and localised non-pharmaceutical measures, informed by research and evidence as well as timely information exchange on the effectiveness of re-introduced measures.
- Supporting vulnerable groups such as the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions and those on the margins of society through sharing best practices of testing, care, and treatment, including in mental health and psychosocial support.
- Reducing the burden of seasonal flu to avoid additional pressure on the already-stretched health care systems, through increased vaccination coverage and other means such as ensuring additional national procurements for influenza vaccines.
Member States are increasingly coordinating their response, which is absolutely vital in ensuring that the epidemiological situation remains low across the EU. The public health measures taken by the countries helped to decrease the numbers of new infections to a level that was manageable by health systems. This in turn allowed the progressive lifting of the various restrictions imposed and the reopening of most activities, guided by the European roadmap to lifting of coronavirus measures.
The virus does not stop at EU borders. The Commission will continue to coordinate with other global actors, including the UN and WHO, to ensure the required international response to this global health threat, including equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine.