News World Coronavirus is not high threat to workers, EU says, causing outcry

Coronavirus is not high threat to workers, EU says, causing outcry

 

The European Commission classified the new coronavirus as a mid-level threat to workers, drawing criticism from socialist lawmakers because the move will allow less stringent workplace safety measures than if the virus was deemed a high risk.

The decision has wide economic and health implications as it could affect companies’ costs in restarting business activity and have an impact on workers’ safety.

The Commission, the EU’s executive arm, classified the new coronavirus as a level-3 hazard on a four-step risk list on which level 4 is the highest.

Under EU rules, a level-3 virus “can cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to workers; it may present a risk of spreading to the community, but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available”.

Level-4 biological agents pose a “high risk” of infection with no prophylaxis or treatment available.

There is currently no treatment to prevent or cure COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which has killed nearly 380,000 people worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said several criteria are used to classify biological hazards and none of them has more weight than others.

“The existence or absence of prophylaxis cannot be considered as a standalone criterion,” the spokeswoman said.

The decision followed consultations with scientists and with the World Health Organisation, and it was supported by experts from the 27 EU states, based on the most recent data on the epidemic, she added.

NOT TRANSPARENT

“We strongly oppose the decision by the Commission to classify COVID-19 only as a mid-level hazard. COVID-19 is the biggest health challenge of our lifetime,” said EU lawmaker Agnes Jongerius, who speaks on employment matters for the socialist grouping, the second largest in the EU Parliament.

She said the decision was not taken in a transparent fashion. “There is no public information available about the consulted experts and their reasoning.”

The Commission’s decision is immediately applicable, but the parliament could block it in a vote expected in June.

Medics and nurses are among those most at risk of contracting the disease. Localised outbreaks have often occurred in plants with a large workforce, such as slaughterhouses.

The decision means employers will have to guarantee a series of safety measures for their workers. But because the virus is not classified as high risk they are less likely to be exposed to legal challenges in case of infections.

The epidemic in Europe, the world’s worst-hit region, has reached its peak, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

However, the virus is still circulating and a second large wave of infections is considered likely in the autumn.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

Another 60+ years until women get equal with men in EU

European women are at least 60 years away from winning equality with men and the pandemic could further slow progress, according to a report...

Member of the House of Parliament staff tested positive to COVID-19

A member of the House of Representatives on Thursday was tested positive to COVID-19. New House Speaker Adamos Adamou has been informed. All appropriate measures will...

Three people killed in Nice knife attack

A knife-wielding attacker shouting "Allahu Akbar" beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a suspected terrorist attack at a church in the...

Fire out of control at a printing office in Latsia (PHOTOS)

A fire on Thursday broken out at a printing office located in Latsia area, Nicosia. According to initial information, the fire seems to have broken...

500 COVID-19 tests in Kyperounta after increased number of cases

The Health Ministry announced that over the coming days, 500 COVID-19 tests will be conducted in Kyperounta after the increased number of confirmed cases. As...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...