To combat the spike of coronavirus infections throughout the continent and the advent of the novel omicron variety, European Union leaders decided on Thursday that booster doses are “urgent” and “crucial.”
With the holiday season approaching, the bloc’s leaders emphasized the significance of concerted effort to avoid a jumble of legislation among the 27 member states and to ensure that COVID-19 certificates continue to guarantee unfettered travel.
Leaders meeting in Brussels urged on a coordinated strategy to prevent restrictions on free movement between member nations or travel into the area in their summit conclusions.
In recent weeks, however, worrisome increases in infections have spurred several European governments to enact public health measures and new limitations.
Because of the rapidly spreading omicron cases, France will restrict immigration from the United Kingdom, limiting the grounds for travel and demanding 48-hour isolation upon arrival. The new regulations will go into force on Saturday am.
Negative tests from vaccinated visitors were required in Italy this week, sparking fears that similar measures would be implemented abroad, limiting EU residents’ ability to visit friends and family during the holidays.
On Dec. 1, Portugal enacted a similar step, mandating all passengers on inbound planes to undergo an obligatory negative test, regardless of their vaccination status, country of origin, or nationality. Starting Sunday, all inbound tourists must show a negative test unless they have spent less than 48 hours abroad, Greece declared on Wednesday.
More restrictive measures, such as extra visitor testing, should only be implemented over the Christmas season, according to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, “in order for us to acquire additional time to stimulate as many individuals as possible.” It’s a race against the clock.”
Booster dosages, he added, are critical in combating the spread of the new variety.
“Right now, the only solution to the omicron is to accelerate our immunization campaign, with a special focus on booster vaccinations,” Mitsotakis added. “We are one of the first European countries to make booster injections available to the entire public,” says Greece.
Leaders are concerned about omicron’s ability to spread quickly and put pressure on health systems, according to Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin.
According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Omicron is likely to be the prevalent coronavirus variety across the European Union’s 27 countries by mid-January. She said that the EU is well-prepared to combat it, claiming that over 66 percent of the EU’s population has been completely vaccinated.
However, that statistic does not provide a good picture of the EU’s overall situation. Other countries lag far behind countries like Portugal and Spain, which have inoculated the great majority of their citizens. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Bulgaria has just 26.6 percent of its people properly vaccinated.
Leaders also agreed to keep exporting vaccine doses beyond the EU in order to achieve worldwide immunization. The EU is the greatest exporter of COVID-19 injections, sending over 1 billion doses to the rest of the globe.