I am honoured by the Steering Committee’s decision to be the newly elected Editor of the EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS Joint Action Newsletter for the coming three issues.
At first, I would like to shortly introduce myself. I graduated from Vilnius University Faculty of Medicine as doctor of hygiene and epidemiology. In 1997 I started my career in public health field as doctor of epidemiology. From 2017 I am Director of National Public Health Centre under the Ministry of Health. I see that specialists from my institution get a lot of experience, best practices and motivation from EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS Joint Action and previous projects so it is great honour to me to be part of the consortium.
In addition, I have more than 20 years of experience working with students at the university.
In current issue, most of the articles are associated with Passenger locator forms: data how many countries already use it, for what means of transport, Lithuania’s best practice and challenges installing and using ones and high value project to create and use common European digital Passenger Locator Forms.
I would highly appreciate if you don’t miss ours great colleague’s Martin and his team from Germany request and share all the information related to vaccination of seamen with the Covid-19 vaccines in your country.
If you didn’t have a chance to participate in online Webinar on Events related to COVID-19 at ground crossings I highly recommend to find an hour and to view a record of it.
I know that this year was very challenging for all of us adding a lot of confusion, unknown things to our lives and activities, but at the same time teaching us to focus, concentrate and work together with other institutions for achieving common goals.
Taking the opportunity, I would like to wish you comfortableness of home, peace of heart, meaningfulness of work, sincerity of friends and colleagues. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families.
Dr. Robertas Petraitis, Lithuania
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
Pilot testing the European Digital Passenger Locator Form platform
During the last two months, consortium members have been greatly focused on the development and pilot testing of the European Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) platform. Pilot testing of the web based application is currently taking place and will be completed by the end of December. The purpose of pilot testing is to test the functionality of the European dPLF platform and the clarity of information requested. User feedback (passengers and competent public health authorities) will be requested in order to evaluate user satisfaction with this process and provide any suggestions for improvement. All components of the system will be tested (i.e. dPLF for aviation sector, maritime and ground sector). Pilot testing sessions have been scheduled to take place until the end of December with the participation of EU MS and conveyance operators. For the pilot testing, a guidance document and information materials were developed and shared with all interested stakeholders. See in the thematic section below further information about the EU dPLF.
We also had the opportunity to provide an update of progress made on the EU dPLF platform through the following events:
- Health Security Committee meeting, 04 December 2020
- Eighth meeting of the Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention nad Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) 11-12 November 2020
Synergies of EASA project on exchange of data platform between EUMS and the European Digital Passenger Locator form
EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS is working closely with EASA through regular coordination and technical meetings for the development of the European dPLF platform, and also for the EASA project developing an exchange platform for PLF data between EUMS for air transport. These two projects are complementary. The EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS project is developing a single entry portal for PLF data for the three transport sectors (air, maritime, ground crossings) and a database for EU MS that don’t already have a dPLF system whereas the EASA project is facilitating the exchange of PLF data between Member States via the development of an exchange platform.
Dear Dr. Robertas Petraitis,
We congratulate you to your new position as editor of our Healthy Gateways newsletter. It once again highlights the important role that Lithuania plays in this Joint Action.
May we actually ask you for a favor?
We here in Hamburg (UKE Hamburg and HPHC) are in charge of the work package 4 relating to sustainability of the project, among other issues.
We are, like many others in the consortium, very interested to learn more about the issue of vaccination of seamen with the Covid-19 vaccines. It would be our pleasure to later on write a review article on this issue. While already collecting literature we would be more than happy for any input from readers of the newsletter regarding that topic, maybe some member states representatives could even share ideas or plans on vaccinating seamen.
We would be delighted if you would share our E-Mail address (email@example.com) within the newsletter so that readers can reply to us.
Hamburg Port Health Center
Authors: Team of Laboratory of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Thessaly, Greece
The effectiveness of rapid detection and containment of COVID-19 is interlinked with effective contact tracing. Passenger Locator Forms (PLFs) are used by public health authorities to facilitate contact tracing in case travellers are exposed to an infectious disease during their travel by plane, ship (cruise/ferry), rail, bus or automobile . It is a tool used originally for the air transport sector developed by a transportation working group by the World Health Organization (WHO). In the context of COVID-19, the EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS adapted the PLFs to be used by the maritime sector and ground transport sector . Countries that require completion of PLFs are currently using paper-based formats or have developed national online systems.
EU countries using passenger locator forms
An online search was conducted from 01/12/2020 until 3/12/2020 in the Re-open EU web platform and the IATA TRAVEL CENTER and national websites aiming to identify which countries have national online systems for completing the PLF. The data presented here are preliminary results and after consultation with the EUMS the table will be updated accordingly.
Based on the results of this online search 13 countries were identified as having online systems for completing the PLF:
- 13 countries have online systems for completing the PLF: (Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain)
- Out of these 13 countries,
- all have an online system for arrivals by air
- 9 have an online system for arrivals by sea
- 8 have an online system for arrivals by ground
- 6 countries have included health related questions in the online passenger locator form
In addition to the above, the online search identified that two countries [Romania (https://chestionar.stsisp.ro/) and Iceland (https://visit.covid.is/)] have registration systems for all travellers entering the country however without including travel details.
Table 1: Countries with national online systems for the completion of the PLFs,
Description of the European digital Passenger Locator Form (EU dPLF) platform
The EU dPLF is developed by EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS joint action and coordinated by DG SANTE and DG MOVE with the support from EASA (for further information about the working group and their tasks read Newsletter Issue 12 ). Data from the dPLF will be collected and stored at national level. Based on the system architecture, under an EU level umbrella there will be national databases where national data will be stored. Each country will have access only to their national database. Figure 1 below presents the EU dPLF platform. The digital format would allow for easier and more rapid data collection and exchange between all stakeholders, making contact tracing more effective and efficient.
1. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC TECHNICAL REPORT - Considerations relating to passenger locator data, entry and exit screening and health declarations in the context of COVID-19 in the EU/EEA and the UK 2020, ECDC: Stockholm.
2. European Commission. Coronavirus resurgence: Commission steps up action to reinforce preparedness and response measures across the EU. 28/10/2020 2/12/2020]; Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1986.
3. World Health Organization. Strengthening health security by implementing the International Health Regulations (2005). Public health passenger locator card. 2020 [cited 2020 22 January]; Available from: https://www.who.int/ihr/ports_airports/locator_card/en/.
4. EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS JOINT ACTION PREPAREDNESS AND ACTION AT POINTS OF ENTRY (PORTS, A., GROUND CROSSINGS),. INTERIM ADVICE FOR PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE TO CASES OF COVID-19 AT POINTS OF ENTRY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION(EU)/EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA MEMBER STATES (MS). 2020; Available from: https://www.healthygateways.eu/Novel-coronavirus#Interim.
5. EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS JOINT ACTION PREPAREDNESS AND ACTION AT POINTS OF ENTRY (PORTS, A., GROUND CROSSINGS),. NEWSLETTER Issue 12. 2020; Available from: https://www.healthygateways.eu/DesktopModules/EasyDNNNews/DocumentDownload.ashx?portalid=0&moduleid=427&articleid=24&documentid=13.
Figure 1: Schematic of the EU dPLF platform
Authors: Robertas Petraitis, Brigita Kairiene, Aurimas Raulinaitis
National Public Health Centre under the Ministry of Health, Lithuania
COVID-19 epidemiological situation and the exceptional situation of the people’s movement in Lithuania and all over the world shows that information about travellers crossing the borders is very important to public health specialists for the contact tracing.
The collection of filled paper forms about travellers for any means of transport at the points of entries met these kinds of challenges: not enough data about travellers for contact tracing if needed, typing errors, illegible writing or filled in incomprehensible language, requires additional public health specialist forces, etc.
All these challenges encouraged specialists to prepare and install digital Passenger locator form (dPLF) (https://keleiviams.nvsc.lt/en/form) which all the travellers who are coming to the Republic of Lithuania are obliged to fill online before travel by all modes of transport (aircraft, ferry, land transport). The data of the completed dPLF enters the Information System for the Monitoring and Control of Communicable Diseases Which May Spread and Raise a Threat (Information System) and this information can be used by public health specialist for contact tracing related to the trip and other purposes.
Up to now there is about 320 000 of records about travellers who entered the Republic of Lithuania in the Information System.
Worth mentioning, that dPLF is updated considering current legislation and the need of the information that have to be collected from the travellers.
The main challenges which have been identified after starting to use dPLF:
- very slow increase of popularity of dPLF
- there still exist completed paper Passenger locator forms
- in the beginning required a large capacity of public health specialists working at points of entries
The main best practices which have been identified after starting to use dPLF:
- faster registration of the travellers at the point of entries
- all data is stored is one place and are easily reachable by public health specialists or other stakeholders
- the real time statistic data is in place
- easier to filter out the passengers of one trip
- the dPLF is used in 3 languages (Lithuanian, English and Russian)
Future plans. The main purpose for the nearest future is to have more user-friendly dPLF interface, which will be more comfortable to use for frequent travellers. In addition, the integration of the information about traveller’s status of vaccination for COVID-19 is under consideration. And last but not least, we are interested in joining the common Europe dPLF platform prepared by EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS Joint Action consortium.
Previous events of EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS
Webinar on Events related to COVID-19 at ground crossings
A live webinar presenting Events related to COVID-19 at ground crossings was organised on Thursday 26th November 2020. A total of 120 participants from 17 European countries and 8 non-EU countries registered to watch the live or recorded webinar out of which 60 watched the live webinar.
The webinar also presented
- the guidelines for ground crossings developed by EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS joint action
- transmission of COVID-19 on ground transport
- suggested solution to facilitate cross border exchange of pubic heath information
- development of digital Personal Locator Form to facilitate contact tracing
- experience from survey on ground crossings in EU
- Lithuanian experiences on management of COVID-19 at ground crossings
- FRONTEX experience in relation to COVID-19
All webinars are available for play back viewing apply on the link below by completing the webinar(s) you are interested in: https://www.healthygateways.eu/Contact-Us
- Staying safe from COVID-19 during winter
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL
Read more here:
- ECDC EASA Guidelines for COVID-19 testing and quarantine of air travellers - Addendum to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol
Read more here:
- ILO Resolution concerning maritime labour issues and the COVID-19pandemic (adopted on 8 December 2020)
Read more here:
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