EU Commission recommends use of antigen tests to facilitate cross-border travel
The European Union has asked member nations today, Wednesday, to generalize the use of rapid antigen tests to facilitate cross-border travel during the pandemic. Although antigen tests are less reliable than the standard PCR coronavirus tests, they cost less and help track-and-tracing efforts due to producing results more quickly.
In its non-binding recommendation, the European Commission encouraged the 27 EU countries to use a common set of Covid-19 tests, a move aimed at slowing infections while facilitating travel. The hard-hit travel industry has been pushing for the implementation of rapid tests for air passengers to reduce the need for post-arrival quarantines and to give airlines a boost.
The president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, has shown his satisfaction with their recommendation: "We are happy, because it is also our proposal, and allows a safe reactivation in the Canary Islands of mobility and tourism," said the top regional leader on his official Twitter account.
The EC has offered additional guidance to European Union countries on rapid antigen tests for the diagnosis of Covid-19 and has strengthened support to increase testing capacity.
The commission said it is allocating 100 million euros to purchase rapid antigen tests, and to deliver them to EU member states. In addition, it plans to allocate 35.5 million euros to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for staff training and equipping the humanitarian network’s testing teams.
The European Commission said rapid tests should be used in situations where fast detection is needed to manage an outbreak, or for the regular surveillance of high-risk groups and locations, such as medical personnel, and in care homes. The commission also recommended the use of the tests for the purpose of triaging patients at healthcare facilities.
When PCR tests are not sufficiently available, in areas where the proportion of positive cases is greater or equal to 10%, the rapid tests should be used to test people with Covid-19 symptoms, the commission said. They also could be used in locations with a lower proportion of positive cases as part of contact-tracing strategies, it said.
EU leaders are expected to discuss the implementation of the recommendations during an evening video conference tomorrow, Thursday.