Tag: Cautionary

EU Sounds Cautionary Note on Virus With New Travel Guidance

(Bloomberg) — European Union regulators offered a fresh set of safe-travel recommendations in bid to make it easier for people to cross national borders within the bloc while guarding against another resurgence of the coronavirus.



a group of people walking down a street: Travelers queue to enter the Covid-19 test center, operated by Centogene NV, at Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt, Germany, on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. A spat has broken out between senior officials in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc over coronavirus rules for travelers arriving in Germany from areas designated as risky.


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Travelers queue to enter the Covid-19 test center, operated by Centogene NV, at Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt, Germany, on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. A spat has broken out between senior officials in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc over coronavirus rules for travelers arriving in Germany from areas designated as risky.

The guidelines in the run-up to the end-of-year holidays are the latest attempt to strike a balance between the responsibility of EU governments for health policy and the role of the European Commission in preventing barriers in the bloc’s single market.

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The commission, the 27-nation EU’s regulatory arm, accompanied its latest recommendations with an appeal for prudence. The goal is to avoid a repeat of a rush to looser measures — something that EU countries did several months ago in a bid to salvage the summer tourist season and that fueled spikes in Covid-19 infections.

“Like everything else this year, end-of-the-year festivities will be different,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement on Wednesday in Brussels. “We cannot jeopardize the efforts made by us all in the recent weeks and months.”

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At the same time, the EU’s disease-control and aviation agencies issued a separate set of non-binding guidelines that urge member countries to avoid treating travelers as automatic high-risk sources of Covid-19 because the virus is now “well established” across the bloc.

“In such a scenario, testing and quarantine have only a limited impact on reducing the risk of spread, particularly with respect to travel between areas of similar risk or when moving from less risky ‘green’ areas to ‘orange’ or ‘red’ areas with greater prevalence of the disease,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Aviation Safety Agency said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

European airline and airport groups, which have been vocal critics of what they say has been a patchwork of measures across Europe to tackle the pandemic, jumped on the ECDC-EASA input to call for an end to quarantines on travelers.

European governments should “immediately abolish quarantine measures and other travel restrictions,” Airlines for Europe and the Airports Council International Europe said in an emailed statement.

Following are the latest commission travel-related recommendations to EU governments:

Where available, encourage people who intend to travel to get the season flu vaccine.Strongly discourage people with symptoms of Covid-19 from travelingWhere possible, increase public transport options and capacities to reduce crowdingRequire the use of masks in public transport and ensure all vehicles are well ventilatedEnsure that workers in transport, tourism and other exposed sectors have protection measuresEnsure that, if quarantine and testing of travelers are requested, these requirements are proportionate and non-discriminatoryAssess how testing can lead to the lifting of quarantine or other

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A Cautionary Tale For All Those Planning Air Travel

In September, a man boarded a flight from Dubai to New Zealand. Not 48 hours before he had tested negative for Covid-19. Days after disembarking, while quarantining in compliance with national containment policy, he and six other passengers of the 86 on board were confirmed to be infected with the virus SARS-CoV-2.

According to a preprint case study released by New Zealand health authorities, at least four of the infections occurred in-flight—all tracing back to one man who, at least by the time he stowed his belongings and took his seat, was presymptomatic but shedding active virus. The chain of transmission was confirmed afterwards via genomic analysis.

Incoming travelers to New Zealand are required by law to quarantine for two weeks in designated hotels upon arrival, where they will be monitored and tested at least twice before being released. The samples of those who test positive are isolated, genomically sequenced, and compared to determine their exact origins. This was how health authorities were able to identify the four passengers who contracted the virus in-flight, as well as the man who gave it to them.

While not the first piece of evidence to affirm the possibility of in-flight transmission—just last month another study traced nearly 60 Covid-19 cases back to a single flight—reports of the incident make for a cautionary tale, especially with Thanksgiving fast approaching in the United States. The first takeaway is that air travel is dangerous, even when everyone, including the crew, is instructed to wear masks and, as far as we can tell, observes those instructions. The second takeaway is that a negative test isn’t foolproof. Most likely, the man on the New Zealand flight was infected shortly before or after completing a test and didn’t develop symptoms until a day or two after arriving at his destination.

Many Americans traveling by plane this Thanksgiving and for the winter holidays soon to follow will be heading straight from the airport into the arms of relatives and loved ones, rather than supervised quarantine facilities. Surveys show that in general, most recognize the risks this entails and will take necessary precautions. But they also show that two in five Americans plan on attending a gathering of more than ten people—and as for the hosts of these large gatherings, one in three won’t require guests to wear masks.

Now New Zealand, unlike the United States, has come incredibly close to eliminating Covid-19. So has China. Perhaps in anticipation of the travel surges to come, the Chinese government has tightened restrictions on points of entry, now requiring all airline passengers entering mainland China to submit not just a negative PCR test, but a negative IgM antibody test. My interpretation of this is that health authorities picked up on enough 

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