Minister says new coronavirus strains currently greatest threat

Brussels – Health Minister Janez Poklukar took part in a EU ministerial to note that many member states had called for a single EU strategy to improve sequencing, as new coronavirus strains were currently the greatest threat, for the free flow of people and goods, but also for the healthcare systems.

Poklukar said the ministers had debated the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular non-pharmaceutical measures.

The debate heard a lot of concern over the number of infections growing in many countries, and only some of the countries are thinking about relaxing measures, for instance Ireland, the minister told the press after Tuesday’s virtual ministerial.

Poklukar said that his key message was that non-pharmaceutical measures are the most frequent public health measures until countries achieve a sufficiently high vaccination rate.

Many countries called for a single EU strategy to improve sequencing, he said, pointing to Denmark as an example of good practice, where 100-percent sequencing of various strains is ensured and the situation is under control.

In Slovenia, around 10% of positive tests are sequenced in line with EU recommendations, he added.

The minister noted the importance of vaccination as the most effective measure to stop the virus, and of producers securing the agreed quantities of vaccine that should be distributed fairly, under the pro rata principle.

The EU health ministers also discussed today the new EU strategy for fighting cancer. Poklukar said that providing quality care and reducing inequalities between member states was a great challenge.

Slovenia supports further work in screening programmes and focusing on patients who survived cancer, he said, adding that this aspect was being frequently forgotten although it was as important as a preventive and curative measure.