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European Commission recommends continuous COVID-19 containment measures for Xmas

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-12-03 07:10

BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Wednesday adopted a strategy to sustainably manage the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the Christmas and New Year festivities, when risks of virus transmission could increase due to indoor gatherings.

People walk past Christmas-themed decorations of a shop window amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Madrid, Spain December 2, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The strategy recommended continued vigilance and caution throughout the winter period and into 2021, when the roll-out of safe and effective vaccines will occur, according to a commission statement.

The strategy focused on physical distancing and limiting social contacts, testing and contact tracing as well as safe travel over the end-of-year holidays. It also urged member states of the European Union (EU) to increase psychosocial support to address pandemic fatigue and mental health.

The commission called for a coordinated EU-wide approach, which it said would provide clarity to people and avoid another resurgence of the pandemic.

The coronavirus is claiming a life every 17 seconds in Europe and although the situation seems to be stabilising, it remains delicate, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in the statement.

"This year, saving lives must come before celebrations," stressed Kyriakides, warning that the efforts made in recent weeks and months should not be jeopardised.

The adoption of the strategy came a day after the European Medicines Agency announced that it had received two applications for the EU approval of vaccines and a few hours after the United Kingdom regulator gave its go-ahead for one of the vaccines to be distributed in the country.

As long as a safe and effective vaccine is not available and a large part of the population not immunised, EU member states must continue their efforts to mitigate the pandemic by following a coordinated approach, said the statement.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including France, Germany, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 26, there were 213 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 49 of them were in clinical trials.

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