Swiss seek access to EU early-warning system as coronavirus spreads

BERN (Reuters) – Switzerland requires access to a European Union early-warning system for health crises to fortify its defences against the brand-new coronavirus in China, Swiss health officials stated on Tuesday.

Isabella Eckerle, head of the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Illness, Daniel Koch and Patrick Mathys (LtoR) of the Swiss Federal Workplace of Public Health attend to a news conference on the new coronavirus in Bern, Switzerland January 28,2020 REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Under the EU’s Early Warning and Reaction System (EWRS), member states share information to attempt to prevent or manage cross-border hazards to health. Switzerland is not a member of the EU, so it is not part of the EWRS.

With the coronavirus’s development, Bern has actually sought short-term access to the system and anticipates Brussels eventually to agree to its request, as it did during a current Ebola outbreak.

However permanent access to the EWRS is hindered by a deadlock in drawn-out talks with the EU since of argument over a treaty that visualizes Switzerland consistently embracing single-market rules, to name a few things, to maintain favoured-trading status.

The scenario could act as a warning to Britain as it prepares to leave the EU while keeping trade ties to the bloc.

” It’s very difficult for us to know precisely what is going on in our neighbouring nations, specifically which measures they are taking,” Daniel Koch, head of the infectious illness unit at the Swiss Federal Department of Health, informed Reuters.

” What it reveals now is that when a crisis begins, it’s a little bit late to put us in, it takes too much time.”

Switzerland has actually no confirmed cases of the respiratory illness that emerged weeks earlier in Wuhan in China. But the confirmation of cases in France and Germany has actually made Swiss health officials anxious to get news of advancements fast.

” The Europeans have actually broadened their early caution system,” Koch stated. “They interact with each other. And it’s not that they don’t want to communicate with us. It does not happen to them that we don’t see the reports.”


The EWRS is a digital platform connecting the EU’s executive European Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and health authorities throughout the EU to handle major cross-border threats.

A deal offering Switzerland gain access to is prepared for signature as part of a broader health pact with the EU.

But talks are obstructed by the EU’s demand over single-market guidelines and a request by Brussels for Bern to develop a more efficient platform for solving disagreements. Talks are on hold till Might, when Swiss citizens choose whether to cancel an EU free-movement accord.

Beyond excluding the Swiss from the early-alert system, other consequences of the EU impasse include suspension of cross-border securities trading in July. Swiss makers of medical devices such as pacemakers and hip implants are cautioning of a possible trade logjam later this year.

Modifying by Timothy Heritage

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