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Coronavirus: EU might scrap colour code travel system says minister

health minister
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas

The EU is close to changing the criteria or scrapping travel rules adopted because of the coronavirus pandemic altogether, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Monday.

The minister was replying to questions in parliament over the fact that Cyprus is constantly in the Red category even though it has one of the lowest transmission rates.

“Unfortunately, the criteria that was selected to rank these countries are not very good for Cyprus,” he said.

Recently, the minister added, he had taken the initiative to ask the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) to change the criteria or scrap them.

Hadjipantelas thinks “we are very close to either changing or abolishing the criteria.”

The colour code system was adopted by the EU in October 2020 in light of the continuing pandemic.

They have since been amended twice.

Countries are classified as Red if the 14-day cumulative Covid-19 case notification rate ranges from 75 to 200 and the test positivity rate of tests is 4 per cent or more, or if the 14-day cumulative case notification rate is more than 200 but less than 500.

Countries in Dark Red means their 14-day cumulative case notification rate is 500 or more.

They may also be classified as Grey if there is insufficient information or if the testing rate is lower than 300 cases per 100,000.

The system was put in place after European countries agreed to a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the pandemic.

States agreed that a common mapping system based on a colour code (green, orange, red, grey) should be put in place, as well as common criteria for member states when deciding whether to introduce travel restrictions.

They also agreed there should be more clarity on the measures applied to travellers from higher-risk areas (testing and self-quarantine) and providing clear and timely information to the public.

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