HomeSafetyCovid-19, European Commission's roadmap. Phase 2 is being prepared

Covid-19, European Commission's roadmap. Phase 2 is being prepared

COVID-19. The European Commission prepares a roadmap heralding 'phase 2'. On 15.4.20 the president Ursula Von Der Leyen announces the program, which will shortly be presented and discussed in the European Parliament and the Council.

EU roadmap, premise

The restrictive measures necessary to slow the spread of the virus have had (and have) an economic and social cost that will have repercussions on the functioning of the internal market and on all international supply chains. As already cautioned by FAO, for the food sector.

The return to 'normality' Sara 'very slow', although it is clear that extraordinary confinement measures cannot last indefinitely. It is therefore necessary to plan - well in advance - the phase in which Member States will be able to restart economic and social activities, identifying strategies to contain the impact on citizens' health. And above all, prevent the overload of health systems.

The Commission recommends a coordinated approach, to the oxen already escaped from the stable. Based on the indications of theEcdc (European Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and of a panel of scientific consultants. Also taking into account the (tragic) experiences acquired in the Member States.

General recommendations for phase 2

The general lines of the European Commission aim at a 'progressive reduction'containment measures, in view of a'gradual return'to community life. Guidelines, non-binding indications on issues beyond the jurisdiction of the EU. Each Member State will therefore be able to consider and adapt them in relation to the characteristics of its health system (central and territorial), the distribution of the population and the economic dynamics.

The elements to be considered in planning the coronavirus 'phase 2', in the opinion of the Commission:

1) gradual action, to be implemented in different phases with sufficient time intervals to verify their 'beneficial effect'. Above all to allow vigilance on any contraindications, with respect to the primary objective of safeguarding the life and health of the populations

2) progression of measures, from general to specific. That means:

- extended protection of the most sensitive population groups (elderly and chronically ill) and of COVID-19 positive or pauci-symptomatic subjects (in isolation),

- gradual replacement prohibitive measures (general, e.g. suspension of public transport) with specific protection measures (e.g. intensive and frequent sanitation of means of transport, as well as safety distances and other precautions),

- gradual exit from the general state of emergency, to guarantee the democratic accountability of the measures adopted and foster the broad consensus of the populations, (1)

3) hierarchy of reopening. That is to say, to lift the containment measures starting from the local level. With the idea of ​​ensuring the effective adequacy of the measures with respect to individual contexts, taking into account the need for progressivity. Bearing in mind the need for ongoing health surveillance and the possible restoration of restrictions (sanitary cordons) if new outbreaks emerge,

4) gradual reopening of internal borders and external, through the adoption of main and complementary hygiene measures to mitigate the risks of transmission of the virus in communities:

- to impose the use of face masks, for example. Especially where transit in confined spaces is foreseen (e.g. shopping centers, distribution shops, transport, etc.),

- to assert good health education practices (maintaining a suitable physical distance between people), personal hygiene (frequent washing and sanitizing of the face and hands, reduction of hand contact with the face, nose, eyes and mouth), respiratory hygiene (protection of nose and mouth in case of cough or sneeze).

Specific recommendations

Specific recommendations they are aimed at communities, to protect workers, students and visitors to public and private places open to a plurality of people.

Progressivity in the authorization of gatherings. For schools and universities it should refer to the school and academic year 2020/2021, although representatives of some Member States have announced their intention to bring forward the reopening.

Social distancing, to be guaranteed first of all, in the community, through suitable measures such as the organization of:

- different times for access to canteens and places to rest (e.g. cafes, vending machine areas, courtyards, smoking areas),

- hygiene (often still lacking),

- smaller classrooms,

- greater use ofe-learning, etc..

Social distancing

Further recommendations are aimed at the management of:

- business (food and non-food distribution, B2B and B2C),

- public businesses,

- sports centers and clubs,

- mass gatherings (e.g. sporting and musical events, etc.

- public and private offices, professional offices, health facilities, etc.

Risk analysis constitutes the premise of any procedure aimed at guaranteeing effective compliance with social distancing measures. It is therefore necessary to consider:

▶ ️ the status of the places (local and open spaces) and the different possible scenarios of their attendance in the various opening hours),

▶️ the concrete risks of violation of the safety distances interpersonal. Which they remember being the first hygienic precaution to avoid contagion through direct contact.

The procedures they must therefore be defined by the owners and / or managers or legal representatives of each organization, on the basis of an accurate and specific risk analysis, considering the following aspects:

- maximum number of people admitted, of which to display information by means of signs at the entrance of the premises and to ensure compliance under the responsibility of their managers,

- opening time. Which can be appropriately quoted for population groups, to prevent gatherings and unnecessary waiting,

- timetables and preferential lanes in favour of vulnerable categories of the population (eg elderly, disabled, sick, pregnant women and new parents).

Means of transport

In Brussels it is assumed the prediction of 'new ways of transporting people'. The electric micro-mobility the solution to be favored is clearly evident, although neither the European Commission nor the Member States have so far stimulated its diffusion with concrete support measures (regulatory simplification and fiscal or economic incentives).

It is expected like this authorization (in primis) of private means of transport, as they present a lower exposure of passengers to the risk of contagion. However, collective transport will have to be reorganized as soon as possible, reducing the density of passengers and therefore increasing the frequency (and fleets, carbon free?) of the services. In addition to the obligation to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for the driver and / or passengers.

The use of barriers protection (or division of the spaces inside the carriages, always guaranteeing adequate ventilation?) and the signaling of hand disinfection paths, on board the means of transport and at stops, is being studied.

However, action must be taken on the community, with hammering work to raise awareness, until everyone has understood the serial habit of good hygiene practices (safety distance, frequent hand washing, covering the face, sanitizing surfaces and objects).

Continuous monitoring

Health monitoring it is the indispensable premise for the gradual withdrawal of containment measures. Indeed, it is necessary to guarantee:

A) surveillance continues of any new outbreak of infection,

B) timely interception of any outbreaks, by:

- isolation of any new positivity,

- identification of all related contacts (domestic, business, social),

- analysis and precautionary measures on the aforementioned,

C) the adoption of all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

'Any level of gradual relaxation of the confinement will unavoidably lead to a corresponding increase in new cases. This will require constant and detailed monitoring as well as the readiness to adjust and reintroduce new measures if needed ' (European Commission, 15.4.19)

The responsability of public administrators is added to that of the legal representatives of each organization and of individuals, given the seriousness of the danger and the risk of having to apply new, potentially drastic containment measures.

Critical issues

The greatest criticality on closer inspection today it is represented precisely by the inability to carry out 'carpet' monitoring of the entire population, following the examples of China and South Korea. Where the data show how to isolate the virus before it reaches hospitals is the key to reach the level of 'new zero infections'. And this result is in turn the prerequisite for activities, work and the economy to truly resume. Although applying different schemes, based on strict compliance with basic hygiene precautions.

Member States they are therefore invited to rapidly equip their health services, with the dual objective of:

– testing. ensure the availability and execution of large-scale analyzes, such asa prerequisite for the relaxation of social distancing measures’,

- tracing app. Mobile phone applications development are recommended to track the virus and alert people to increased risk due to contact with a COVID-19 positive person. 'These applications can help break chains of infection and reduce the risk of further virus transmission.'

Traceability proximity between mobile devices can be achieved in compliance with legislation on privacy, by collecting data on an anonymous and aggregate basis, without disclosing the names to other users. However, the use of these apps - already operational in China, Singapore and Israel - remains voluntary.

Coordination of development activities and the IT team;

The coordination which has so far been lacking among the state, regional and local levels must be activated without delay. Unambiguous criteria for the assessment of epidemiological risk and its consistent management must also be agreed at European level. For this purpose it will be useful to apply the modus operandi already developed - albeit with relative and improved success - in the management of food security crises:

- timely analysis risk based on shared fees,

- communication transparent and punctual in network information,

- intervention with progressive extension on all the territories involved.

The complexity of the scenario - which involves a plurality of sectors, with significant impacts on society, the economy and competition - requires a systemic approach. As suggested in a recent study by Queen's University Institute of Clinical Science of Belfast, published on The Lancet. (2) Reason, strategic vision and above all solidarity (!).

Dario Dongo, Claudio Biglia and Amaranta Traverso


(1) A conceptual error. The state of emergency constitutes the legal basis for allowing exceptions and flexibility in the application of otherwise unsustainable rules (eg tax measures, contribution and bureaucratic charges, public office calendars and deadlines, etc.). It represents a risk management tool, as such based on its scientific analysis.

The European Commission and the Council should rather intervene against Hungary, to sanction the so-calledanti-coronavirus defense law'. The law by which Parliament abdicated its powers in favor of Prime Minister Viktor Horbán. V. Hungary's premier Orban gets sweeping new powers in coronavirus fight. Standard Business (Hungary), 30.3.20,

(2) Bradley, Declan Terence et al. (2020). A systems approach to preventing and responding to COVID-19. Clinical Medicine (The Lancet). Volume 0, Issue 0, 100325.

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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Veterinarian, specialist in the inspection of food of animal origin. He participates in several research projects in food safety and microbiology. She co-authored numerous monographs on food safety and over thirty scientific publications.

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Veterinary surgeon, specializing in the inspection of food of animal origin. Since 1982 he has been a public veterinarian, since 1990 he has taught at the Universities of Turin and Teramo. He is the author of over seventy scientific publications and co-author of various texts on microbiology, radiocontamination of food, surveillance, health and food law, trade in public areas and communication in health emergencies.

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