Testing for COVID-19 for flu like symptoms to be carried out across mainland Europe

Testing for COVID-19 for flu like symptoms to be carried out across mainland Europe

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Sara Sayer started this petition to European Ombudsman and

COVID-19 is spreading across European states at an alarming rate, particularly in mainland Europe in the Schengen area where there are no checks in place for travellers. The UK and Italy rolled out the procedure to test for all flu like symptoms presenting in their general population, regardless of travel history - as community spread and local transmission of COVID-19 became more prevalent. This has enabled these countries to report more accurate figures to the WHO, test others who have possibly been infected and prevent further local spread. Unfortunately, these actions have not been followed across Europe.

Countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Spain are not routinely testing at GP surgeries or hospitals for suspicious symptoms amidst their general populations, despite numerous instances of community spread. This is despite the fact there has been local transmission occurring and the patient 0 is not able to be identified in quite a few cases. One can logically assume from this lack of action that COVID-19 is in fact circulating and spreading across these states. Findings from Italy suggest that the virus has been circulating there for weeks, so the true number of cases has not been reflected as those with mild symptoms would not have sought medical advice or testing.

GPs from these lenient countries are exasperated and have to wait on the phone for hours sometimes, pleading with the relevant agencies to authorise COVID-19 testing. They are often refused the test, especially if the sick individual has not travelled to a high risk area or developed serious complications yet. Research has proven that early intervention significantly improves outcomes in severe cases. These agencies completely disregard that community transmission is now occurring. It seems the selfish stance that has been taken that, if they don't test people - they won't have as many cases to report in their data. These countries are not being transparent and are collectively putting the health of their citizens at risk. For some of the wealthiest countries, what excuse can they possibly have to deny routine testing for COVID-19 in the general population? Have they not seen the consequences of not applying stringent containment measures on countries such as China and Italy? Daily flights to high risk areas such as Tehran, Iran and Seoul, South Korea have continued from Schiphol airport in the Netherlands. There have been essentially no containment measures put in place there and this will undoubtedly have a global impact, even on countries who have been transparent and proactive.  

The UK in particular has also been quarantining travellers returning from high risk areas suspected of having COV-19, until their test results indicate they are not infected with the virus. This is another measure which has not been replicated in these other EU countries. This inconsistent approach across the EU means that there is currently an uncontrolled, unreported spread of COVID-19 which will continue to make its way to other countries as people carry on travelling.

Furthermore, agencies such as the RIVM (the Dutch equivalent of the CDC) have been putting forward inconsistent and incorrect advice to the public. They disregard asymptomatic spread, stating that even if you have come back from an affected place, if you are without symptoms - one can continue going about their life. The RIVM has also irresponsibly told the public that it is perfectly fine to go out grocery shopping while sick, so far as you maintain a safe distance from others (not only is this unwise and absurd to suggest in the first place, but is this even possible?) 

These countries have disregarded international guidelines and have endangered the lives of the young, weak, vulnerable and elderly with their reckless abandonment of suggested guidance. Sign this petition to demand that consistent, scientifically accurate and up to date advice is issued to EU citizens from their governments. Sign to demand to know where we truly stand with COVID-19. Sign so we can hold those responsible accountable for their negligent approach. Sign to save lives, no matter where you are in the World. EU citizens are understandably worried, upset and disappointed - please help us stop this spreading further. 

If you have time, please also read the thoughts of a Belgian expert in coronaviruses on how the situation has been handled in his home (it is in French but you can translate the page if you view it using google chrome):  The Coronavirus is not just another flu


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