EU to discuss easing Omicron travel curbs on southern Africa

Bloc's health ministers to consider PCR test requirement for third-country nationals arriving from region

A woman is vaccinated against Covid-19 at the Hillbrow Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa, on December 6. AP
Powered by automated translation

EU health ministers are expected to discuss on Tuesday whether it is advisable to adjust the travel curbs the bloc’s nations have imposed on southern Africa in response to the Omicron variant, a diplomat said.

One option being considered is to require a PCR test for vaccinated third-country nationals from that region, which could allow a decision in a week or so to ease or lift some travel bans, a EU diplomat said before the meeting in Brussels.

The travel restrictions are not on the formal agenda for the meeting, and an EU official says that health ministers have no formal role in setting travel restrictions.

The official said the meeting agenda included booster doses, vaccination for children and measures states have put in place to battle the Omicron variant.

European nations last month suspended most air travel from South Africa and six other countries in the region to stem the spread of the new variant while scientists try to assess its severity.

Governments across the world tightened entry rules and some reintroduced quarantine measures, as airlines cut thousands of flights.

The EU co-ordinates travel guidelines within and into the bloc, but member nations are responsible for devising and implementing specific travel restrictions.

What are the symptoms of the Omicron variant?

What are the symptoms of the Omicron variant?

The European Commission will brief health ministers on the pharmaceutical strategy for Europe, which was proposed last year to try to ensure quality and safety of medicine, while boosting the sector’s global competitiveness.

Updated: December 07, 2021, 12:19 AM