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EU To Consider Easing Omicron Travel Curbs On Southern Africa

European Union health ministers will discuss on Tuesday whether to adjust the travel curbs the bloc’s nations have imposed on southern Africa in response to the omicron variant.

The ministers may agree on the need for a PCR test for vaccinated third-country nationals from that region, which could allow some travel bans to be eased or lifted in a week, according to an EU diplomat familiar with the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels.

European nations last month suspended most air travel from South Africa and six other countries in the region to stem the spread of the new variant while scientists try to assess its severity. Governments across the world tightened entry rules and some reintroduced quarantine measures, as airlines slashed thousands of flights.

The European Union coordinates travel guidelines within and into the bloc, but member nations are responsible for devising and implementing specific travel restrictions.

The meeting on Tuesday will also address how the current vaccines are likely to respond to omicron, and the European Commission will brief ministers on the pharmaceutical strategy for Europe, which was proposed last year in an effort to ensure quality and safety of medicines, while boosting the sector’s global competitiveness.

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