MEPs in Strasbourg have adopted new EU rules to improve cross-border co-operation to tackle serious public health threats such as influenza, coronavirus and E-coli outbreaks. 

 
Antibiotic resistant 66292418 klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria-splThe news comes as a 49-year-old man died in St Thomas' Hospital in London after contracting a deadly new virus known as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-nCV) in Qatar. He is only the 41st person known to have died of the virus, which has recently been the subject of a World Health Organisation warning as it appears to be transmissible from person to person.
 
 
As part of the strengthened co-operation framework approved by the European Parliament on July 3rd, EU-wide health emergencies can be declared and a new voluntary mechanism will allow countries to club together to order vaccines in bulk. 
 
Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion commented:
 
"Europe needs to be better prepared against outbreaks of serious infectious diseases such as bird flu or swine flu or other new virus infections which might turn out to be deadly threats to the public.
 
"These new rules are also needed to deal with other health threats which can cross international borders such as a major chemical leak or release of biological agents into water or the atmosphere. 
 
"The rules will allow more co-operation between public health experts in Britain and other EU countries in dealing with a public health emergency. 
 
"A better co-ordinated response to disease outbreaks in Europe is important. 
 
"We need to avoid the chaos of the 2011 E-coli outbreak where different EU countries blamed different vegetables for the outbreak before the facts were known, which was very confusing both for consumers and growers."
 
"The framework will also be linked to the veterinary sector as animal health and zoonotic infections have been a factor in many recent cross-border health threats."
 
ENDS