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EU Health Agency Says Travel Restrictions Can Delay Impact of Omicron in EU Only By 2 Weeks

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a threat assessment brief on the implications of the emergence and spread of the new COVID-19 variant, now called Omicron, in the European Union and European Economic Area countries.

In its Threat Assessment Brief, the ECDC also assesses the impact of travel on the spread of Omicron, as well as the impact of the newly imposed EU ban on travel from the South African region, on delaying the spread of the new variant.

The agency asserts that “given assumptions about the potential import of cases already in EU/EEA countries, ECDC internal modeling shows that severe travel restrictions are likely to only delay the impact of the new format in EU/EEA countries by two weeks.” . .

Immediately after South African scientists warned that they had discovered a new type of coronavirus, which was called Omicron, the majority of European Union member states imposed travel restrictions from the South African region.

Among the first EU member states to impose travel restrictions on countries where the new Omicron variant was discovered was Germany. Last Friday, on November 26, Germany added Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to its list of high-risk areas, which means that travel from these countries has stopped. Only German travelers as well as those traveling for very essential purposes are exempt. However, the same is subject to strict entry restrictions, such as quarantine and dual testing, regardless of vaccination status.

>> Who can travel to Germany amid COVID-19 and what are the rules

Other member states followed Germany’s decision, including here France, the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Spain, although some had milder restrictions compared to others. Schengen members from outside the European Union, Iceland, Switzerland and Norway have also imposed restrictions on travel from the South African region in an effort to prevent the spread of the new virus.

>> EU countries tighten travel restrictions as Omicron variant detected in several member states

Despite rapid travel restrictions, several EU countries have already reported cases of Omicron. Only today, France reported the first two cases of Omicron detected in its territory, while other countries in the bloc such as Finland and the Netherlands have also recorded cases of the new virus variant in their territories.

According to the ECDC, soon, more than half of COVID-19 cases will be from the Omicron variant. However, she noted in her assessment that travel restrictions will give member states at least some time to prepare.

The agency’s assessment notes that “short-term restrictions may give countries time to prepare for the new variable and deal with the re-emergence of delta outbreaks across EU/EEA countries.”

It also advises EU citizens to avoid travel to and from known affected areas, while urging member states to increase testing and contact tracing of COVID-19 cases with epidemiological relevance to affected areas.

>> EU asks member states to review essential travel restrictions daily due to COVID-19 Omicron Variant

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Source: schengenvisainfo.com

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