The European Commission has classified the COVID-19 as a mid-level threat to workers, triggering criticism from socialist lawmakers, since this step will allow for less stringent safety measures in the workplace than if the virus was considered high risk, Reuters reported.
This decision has wide economic and medical consequences, as it can affect the costs of companies in resuming business activity and affect the safety of workers.
The EC has classified the new coronavirus as a 3rd-level threat in the four-stage risk list, in which level 4 is the highest. According to EU regulations, a level-3 virus“can cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to workers; it may present a risk of spreading to the community, but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available”. At the fourth level, there is a "high risk" of infection without any prophylaxis or treatment.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that several criteria are used to classify biological hazards, and none of them have more weight than the others.
“The existence or absence of prophylaxis cannot be considered as a standalone criterion,” the spokeswoman said.
This decision was made in consultation with scientists and the World Health Organization, and was supported by experts from 27 EU countries based on the latest epidemic data, she added.
“We strongly oppose the decision by the Commission to classify COVID-19 only as a mid-level hazard. COVID-19 is the biggest health challenge of our lifetime,” said EU lawmaker Agnes Jongerius
According to her, the decision was made in an opaque way. “There is no public information available about the consulted experts and their reasoning.”
The decision means that employers will have to guarantee a number of safety measures for their employees. But since the virus does not belong to the high-risk group, it is less likely to undergo legal tests in case of infection.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the pandemic in Europe has reached its peak. However, the virus is still circulating, and a second large wave of infections is considered likely in the fall.