EU presses Covid panic button over global resurgence – MEPs to thrash out crisis TODAY

Omicron: Data suggests ‘virus is milder’ says expert

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The emergence of the Omicron Covid variant has reminded world leaders that the virus will continue to mutate over the coming years. Measures are being drawn up so leaders can respond more quickly to new variants, even if they are expected to become less harmful.

On Wednesday morning, MEPs will gather to debate the EU’s response to the global resurgence of Covid.

They will discuss how they can best deal with new emerging variants on a bloc-wide level.

The EU’s early response to the pandemic included the boosting of online learning, economic recovery funding and travel restrictions.

MEPs will likely discuss new proposals on travel to and within the bloc, including prioritising travellers from outside the EU who have been vaccinated and ensuring that those who have not are tested.

MEPs are also bound to discuss the tightening of restrictions imposed on those who choose not to get vaccinated against Covid.

Earlier this month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the idea of mandatory vaccination “needs discussion”.

She suggested that those who do not get jabbed pose an “enormous health cost” to their fellow citizens.

Many EU countries have chosen to impose restrictions on the unvaccinated independently.

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But Ms von der Leyen has insisted that this is an issue which “needs a common approach”, signalling the potential for a discussion on EU-wide mandates.

EU Digital Covid certificates have already been issued to citizens of around 20 countries.

Restrictions have been stepped up in response to the Omicron variant.

Earlier this year, Ms von der Leyen signed off the first plans by EU member states to spend Brussels’s Covid recovery fund.

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The fund, distributed across the bloc, is worth around €800billion (£687billion).

Additional funds may need to be provided at a later date if EU nations choose to impose further restrictions in light of a new variant.

This EU debate will come after British MPs voted on the introduction of new restrictions on Tuesday evening.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a large rebellion from his own MPs on the passing of measures including vaccine passports and vaccine mandates for NHS staff.

Despite this, he received the overwhelming support of the wider House of Commons, with all of his measures passing easily.

The Labour Party chose not to oppose the measures, suggesting it was its “national duty” to support the Government.

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