On the final day of the European Union leaders summit on Tuesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reportedly stressed during his address that travelers returning to their countries of origin should have the option of doing a rapid test or self-test as an alternative to the PCR.
The molecular/PCR test, he stressed, is a more expensive and time-consuming option, adding that rapid tests and self-tests have proven to be a very useful tool for epidemiological surveillance in Greece.
Mitsotakis also noted the need for reciprocity between EU member-states until the relevant legislation on the digital Covid certificate is fully implemented.
Briefing correspondents after the end of the summit, Mitsotakis highlighted the fact that the certificate, which was a Greek proposal, was agreed on at “such great speed.”
He also said he hoped his counterparts would “implement it as soon as possible, with uniform rules,” in order to substantially restore freedom of movement.
He predicted that as vaccination rates increase across Europe, the epidemiological situation will continue to improve in tandem, “and we will be able to avoid additional restrictions,” such as quarantine measures or additional tests for vaccinated people.
The relevant conclusions of the summit welcomed the agreement on the certificate and requested its rapid implementation. The next step is for the 27 members of the bloc to call for the revision of the Council’s recommendation on travel in the EU by mid-June.
Last week, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders noted that it would be possible to issue and use certificates before July 1, provided they include all the necessary information. He further stressed that ever increasing significance is being attached to rapid antigen tests, whose quality, he noted, is constantly improving.
He said the Commission had already purchased 20 million such tests, spending 100 million euros, while it is also in the process of jointly procuring 550 million additional tests, at a cost of €2.6 billion.
Mitsotakis however also cautioned that “we are not done with the pandemic” and urged members of the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The Greek PM added that booster doses of vaccines would be needed within 9-12 months while commending the European Commission for ensuring that these doses will be available.
This article was first published on ekathimerini.com.