The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is now suggesting that people do not travel for the holidays due to the Covid-19 Omicron variant’s emergence and the presence of the Delta variant in Europe.
According to the latest maps published by the ECDC, found by clicking this link, almost all EU, EEA, and Schengen Member States are listed as having a high risk of infection. These numbers are due to the combined statistics of the notification rate, testing rate, and positivity rate found in each individual Member State.
Although not explicitly announced, ECDC Director Dr. Andrea Ammon has suggested in her most recent statement that travel for the holidays, even with Europe, is strongly discouraged.
“We are nearing the end of the year, and just before the holidays come out, ECDC is releasing its 18th Rapid Risk Assessment. Since I last addressed you, the emergence of the Omnicron variant has raised serious concerns due to preliminary reports of clusters of cases, including among people who had been fully vaccinated. There are already indications that community transmissions are already ongoing in EU/EEA countries, and based on modeling predictions, a further rapid increase of Omnicron is eminent. We assessed the probability of further spread of the Omnicron variant in the EU/EEA as very high, and it is considered very likely to cause additional hospitalizations and fatalities further than those already expected from previous forecasts that consider only the Delta variant,” Ammon said.
Ammon here hints that although the holidays are coming up very soon and people will want to gather with family and friends, the risk of catching or spreading the Omnicron variant is high. Therefore, it is discouraged to gather with loved ones for the holidays in 2021, just as it was in 2020.
She continues, “It is urgent that strong action is taken to reduce transmission and alleviate the heavy burden on healthcare systems and protect the most vulnerable in the coming months. Countries have several options for response ahead of the festive season in the current situation. As we have said before, a rapid reintroduction and strengthening of nonpharmaceutical interventions is necessary to reduce the ongoing Delta transmission, slow down the spread of the Omnicron variant of concern, and keep the Covid-19 related burden manageable.”
Dr. Ammon suggests with the above statement that governments need to take further action beyond the scope of vaccine passports, masks, and quarantines.
Ammon’s statements could mean further travel restrictions before the holidays and beyond, depending on how each Member State views this information and is already prone to react.
Ammon also recommends that contact tracing, testing, vaccination, and genomic surveillance remains of high importance with the emergence of the new variant in Europe.
Updates will come when more news is announced.