Dr Janusz Janiec
IHR NFP Coordinator, National
Institute of Public Health,
The current COVID pandemic situation has a great impact on our world, countries, institutions and individuals. It also impacted EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS Joint Action.
It didn’t slow it down or put it on hold, it actually turned it almost in one day from the scientific/theoretical project to very practical one, with hands on many problems very closely related to cross border spread of the infection. Once, the new disease was discovered in China, the introduction to new countries involved crossing the country’s borders through PoEs at airports, ports and located on land borders. All these endeavours are covered by the Joint Action EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS, and as a proof of its supportive role to public health authorities at the PoE please find latest information on many new or updated guidelines and other Joint Action activities in “News from Consortium” section. It is worth checking what is new on our web site in the section dedicated to it. And among highly recommended scientific articles to read in this Newsletter please don’t miss this one:
“Health measures to travellers and cruise ships in response to COVID-19” published in the recent edition of the Journal of Travel Medicine and drafted by the members of EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS Joint Action core team. Congratulations!
Stay healthy, stay home and enjoy the reading!
News from the consortium
Prof. Christos Hadjichristodoulou
EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS Joint Action Coordinator, Professor of Hygiene and Epidemiology,
Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Medical Faculty, University of Thessaly, Greece
The current COVID-19 pandemic has placed an extra pressure on the already busy public health administrations throughout Europe and has greatly impacted the transport industry. The European Commission supports EU Member States by coordinating a common COVID-19 response. They have developed several guidance documents and communications to assist EU MS with responding to the threat and implement measures, while at the same time ensuring borders remain open for critical supplies and key personnel. An overview of the Commission’s response is available here and specifically for travel and transport here.
The joint action which has been operating in an emergency mode since mid-January 2020 supports both EU Member States in regards to Points of Entry and conveyance operators to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, and works in close collaboration with all European and international stakeholders. During this period the joint action prepared 10 interim advice documents after a request from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) for EU Member States and for conveyance operators. An ad-hoc working group was established with members from the EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS joint action consortium, which developed and reviewed the documents.
Moreover, the joint action made 23 consultations since February 3rd 2020, which includes providing advice and clarifications on different issues related to COVID-19 response at PoE (e.g. disinfection practices for ships and aircrafts, issuance of Ship Sanitation Certificates during COVID-19 outbreak, PPE use and other technical issues). The joint action receives inquiries from stakeholders and responses are summarized and posted under the Q&A section on the web portal.
Many members of the consortium have expressed their appreciation for the advice documents developed by HEALTHY GATEWAYS which were also used by EU MS, conveyance operators and international and European associations and federations. The COVID-19 crisis and the difficulties all countries faced in responding to this crisis, highlighted the need for a common approach at European Points of Entry and in particular for communication, use of information systems and for further enhancement of the activities of the EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS joint action.
All documents listed below are available for download here.
Þ Suggested procedures for cleaning and disinfection of ships during the pandemic or when a case of COVID-19 has been identified on board (VERSION 2 - 20/04/2020)
This document includes advice about specifications for the training of cleaning staff and use of PPE, information about cleaning equipment and materials to be used and a summary of antimicrobial agents effective against coronaviruses. It further outlines suggested procedures for cleaning and disinfection for different areas of ships.
Þ Advice for reducing droplet transmission of COVID-19 on board conveyances by using face masks (VERSION 1 – 09/04/2020)
The document provides the rational and makes a suggestion for using face masks on board conveyances, outlining the general considerations for use of face masks (including non-medical “community” masks).
Þ WHO, WHERE, HOW: Overview of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) recommended for staff at Points of Entry and crew on board conveyances in the context of COVID-19 pandemic (VERSION 3 – 27/4/2020)
This document provides information on PPE and outlines the PPE to be used by personnel at POE and on board conveyances in different settings, according to their job role.
Þ Advice for health authorities and ship operators who have decided to suspend sailings and for the long-term docking of ships at the ports of EU/EEA MS during COVID-19 pandemic (VERSION 1 – 18/03/2020)
This document includes advice for permitting ships to enter ports and safely station during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as advice for measures on ships during long-term docking. It also includes advice for the ship before entering the port.
Þ Preliminary advice for preparedness and response to cases of COVID-19 at ground crossings (buses and bus stations) in the European Union (EU)/ European Economic Area (EEA) Member States (MS) (VERSION 1 – 4/3/2020)
This document includes advice on how to strengthen measures for detection of acute respiratory infection due to COVID-19, information strategies for prevention of acute respiratory infections at the point of entry, education and raising awareness of personnel on board buses and at the stations, management of a suspect case on board and guidance for cleaning, disinfection and waste management.
Þ Preliminary advice for preparedness and response to cases of COVID-19 at ground crossings (trains and rail stations) in the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) Member States (MS) (VERSION 1 – 4/3/2020)
This document suggests the use of Public Health Passenger Locator Forms for trains and includes advice on how to strengthen measures for detection of acute respiratory infection due to COVID-19, information strategies for prevention of acute respiratory infections at the point of entry, education and raising awareness of personnel on board trains and at the rail stations, management of a suspect case on board and guidance for cleaning, disinfection and waste management.
Þ Public health measures at points of entry (VERSION 3 - 20/02/2020)
This document presents an algorithm for decision making in response to an event of a suspect case of COVID-19 on board an aircraft and on board a ship. It also includes advice for strengthening measures at points of entry for detection of acute respiratory infection due to COVID-19, information strategies for prevention of respiratory infections at points of entry, the development of contingency plans at airports and ports, and evidence for effectiveness of entry screening based on past experience.
Þ Advice for ship operators for preparedness and response to the outbreak of COVID-19 (VERSION 3 - 20/02/2020)
This document includes advice for both cruise ships and cargo ships, in particular advice on how to minimise the risk for introduction of COVID-19 onto the ship, education and raising passenger and crew awareness, management of suspect cases and their contacts and on their disembarkation. It also outlines other health measures to be introduced on board, specifications for record keeping in the medical log and advice for active surveillance (case finding).
Þ Exit and entry screening at points of entry (VERSION 1 - 06/02/2020)
This document presents what could be achieved and what could not be achieved by exit screening in China, in combination with entry screening in EU MS. It presents potential concomitant beneficial and adverse effects of entry screening and also how entry screening should be implemented. The document further contains an algorithm for decision making on entry screening. Finally, it lists existing training materials for entry and exit screening.
Þ Advice for aircraft operators for preparedness and response to the outbreak of 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (VERSION 2 - 03/02/2020)
This document includes advice on educating and raising crew awareness, on the management of a suspect case on board and on reporting. If further outlines advice for waste management, cleaning and disinfection and ventilation.
· COVID-19 ADVICE for Points of Entry and conveyance operators here
Þ Suggested procedures for cleaning and disinfection of ships during the pandemic or when a case of COVID-19 has been identified on board
Þ Advice for reducing droplet transmission of COVID-19 on board conveyances by using face masks
Þ WHO, WHERE, HOW Overview of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) recommended for staff at Points of Entry and crew on board conveyances in the context of COVID-19 pandemic
· Q&A for Points of Entry—available here This section is continuously updated with new questions that we receive from stakeholders
· Communications from the European Commission about COVID-19 and transport here
· Peer reviewed scientific articles on COVID-19 and transport here
· Passenger Locator Forms for SHIPS and TRAINS here
· Translated Passenger Locator Forms for AIRCRAFTS in 17 languages here
Communications from the Commission about COVID-19 and transport
The European Commission is closely monitoring and coordinating a common European response. On their dedicated COVID-19 website the Commission posts all relevant communications and guidelines. One of the areas of the Commission's response is on travel and transport, and all available guidance and communications are available here.
Latest guidance related to travel:
Þ Commission Guidelines on protection of health, repatriation and travel arrangements for seafarers, passengers and other persons on board ships. 08 April 2020 https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/legislation/c20203100.pdf
A Joint Statement on medical certificates of seafarers, ship sanitation certificates and medical care of seafarers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic - 22 April 2020
The joint statement addresses the following issues:
· Medical care of seafarers
· Medical certificates of seafarers
· Ship Sanitation Certificates
The joint statement is available here
IATA Medical Advisory Group
Restarting aviation following COVID-19 Medical evidence for various strategies being discussed as at 27 April 2020
The document is available here.
ECDC - Considerations for infection, prevention and control measures on public transport in the context of COVID-19
The document is available here.
Þ Health measures to travelers and cruise ships in response to COVID-19
Mouchtouri, V.A., M. Dirksen-Fischer, and C. Hadjichristodoulou, J Travel Med, 2020.
Þ COVID-19 travel restrictions and the International Health Regulations – call for an open debate on easing of travel restrictions
Petersen E, McCloskey B, Hui DS, Kock R, Ntoumi F, Memish ZA, Kapata N, Azhar EI8 Pollack M, Madoff LC Hamer DH1, Nachega JB, Pshenichnaya N, Zumla A. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Volume 94, May 2020, Pages 88-90
Þ Initial impacts of global risk mitigation measures taken during the combatting of the COVID-19 pandemic
S Bruinen de Bruin, Y., et al., af Sci, 2020: p. 104773.