The European Commission is working closely with EU Member States to fight the pandemic in a coordinated way because decisions taken by one country can affect people across the Union. The situation is changing very quickly so to help you keep up with the latest developments, here are five things it may be useful to know:
1. We are taking important steps at the European level to fight coronavirus
We are working on all fronts — medical, research, economy and industry — to support EU countries and are proposing exceptional measures to protect the health of all citizens including:
- investing heavily in research and development;
- ensuring all countries have access to much-needed medical equipment;
- working on effective border management that will protect citizens’ health, while ensuring essential goods and services remain available. This is to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food.
Our efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak will be effective only if they are coordinated at the European level to make sure that the response is coherent. The European Union, as a whole needs to be determined, coordinated and united, so that we can find practical ways to help and support each other in these difficult times.
Coordination is also taking place on transport, border control, internal market and trade issues.
2. A lot of false information is circulating so only get information from trustworthy sources
We can all contribute to public health measures by paying attention to the information we are sharing on social media and in private chats with friends and families. The coronavirus outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ — a term coined by the WHO relating to the over-abundance of information, some accurate and some not, that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance.
We suggest keeping informed through reliable sources such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as your national governments and local health providers. You can also be confident that we at the European Commission are doing our best to assemble and make available reliable information from across the EU, notably through our dedicated website. This is a global pandemic and it requires a global response. We are all in this together and everyone has an important role to play.
Sharing is caring, but only if the information is reliable and true.
3. Hand hygiene and cough etiquette are simple but vital measures
We may not have found a vaccine or treatment yet but we are investing heavily in research.
For now, the power lies in our hands because we can all take simple measures to reduce the spread by washing our hands properly and frequently, and practising good cough etiquette.
Washing your hands vigorously with soap and water for 20 to 30 seconds or using a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol can kill the virus and stop it spreading. Keeping your hands away from your face and not touching your eyes, mouth or nose will help protect against infection. Similarly, when coughing or sneezing, it is best to do so into the crook of your elbow, or to use a tissue (but make sure you throw it away in a closed bin as soon as you have finished AND then immediately wash your hands with soap and water!).
4. By keeping your distance from others, you protect your own health and the people around you
Many governments are introducing strict social distancing measures to keep people away from others during this unprecedented time in order to slow down the spread of coronavirus. This is necessary not only to protect your own health, but also for the health of the people around you.
Generally, elderly people and those with underlying health conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer) are considered more at risk of developing severe symptoms. Even if you feel fine, have no obvious symptoms and are not in one of these most at risk groups, socially distancing yourself from others may protect your parents, grandparents or friends.
Show solidarity and act now.
5. We are all in this together
In addition to your personal responsibility for hygiene and social distancing, those with older family members can make sure they have enough food and medical supplies and take time to understand about any medications elderly relatives need to take.
Be responsible. Stay safe.