European Union (EU) published a report on preliminary advice for preparedness and response to cases of COVID-19 at ground crossings (trains and rail stations).
TEHRAN UIC RAME: This interim advice was prepared after a request from the European Commission's Directorate- General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE). An ad-hoc working group was established with members from the EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS joint action consortium. Names and affiliations of the working group members who prepared this document are listed at the end of the document.
The following advice was produced considering current evidence, the temporary recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel- coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance) and the technical reports of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) (https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/coronavirus/guidance-and- technical-reports) about COVID-19 (as of 3 March 2020).
1. Strengthening measures for detection of acute respiratory infection (ARI) due to COVID-19
Rail operators could consider as an option to perform pre-boarding screening measures for travellers with the purpose to deny boarding to, and ensure proper management by competent health authorities of, any traveller being identified as symptomatic and/or a close contact of a novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) case.
According to ECDC, close contacts are:
A person living in the same household as a COVID-19 case
A person having had direct physical contact with a COVID-19 case (e.g. shaking hands)
A person having unprotected direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case
(e.g. being coughed on, touching used paper tissues with a bare hand)
A person having had face-to-face contact with a COVID-19 case within 2 metres and > 15 minutes
A person who was in a closed environment (e.g. classroom, meeting room, hospital waiting room, etc.) with a COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more and at a distance of less than 2 metres
A healthcare worker or other person providing direct care for a COVID-19 case, or laboratory workers handling specimens from a COVID-19 case without recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) or with a possible breach of PPE
A contact in an aircraft sitting within two seats (in any direction) of the COVID-19 case, travel companions or persons providing care, and crew members serving in the section of the aircraft where the index case was seated (if severity of symptoms or movement of the case indicate more extensive exposure, passengers seated in the entire section or all passengers on the aircraft may be considered close contacts)
Other strategies could be applied at rail stations to avoid crowding of travellers at the station and on trains (e.g. encouraging internet booking by travellers, avoiding the practice of very late announcements of departure platforms).
EU MS are advised to establish communication links with rail operators at national, regional and local level. EU MS are further advised to inform rail operators (particularly with itineraries arriving, departing or passing through areas with presumed community transmission) of the competent authority to contact and inform when identifying a traveller on board the train who fulfills the criteria of a suspect case.
According to ECDC, the definition of a suspect case requiring diagnostic testing is as follows: Patients with acute respiratory infection (sudden onset of at least one of the following: cough, fever, shortness of breath) requiring hospitalization or not, AND who in the 14 days prior to onset of
symptoms have met at least one of the following epidemiological criteria: close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 infection OR having stayed in areas with presumed community transmission.