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Red Cross expands COVID-19 testing in 7 European countries with €35.5 million EU support

Press release

As Europe continues to experience a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, seven National Red Cross Societies will scale up COVID-19 testing with the support of a EUR 35.5 million European Commission partnership.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has signed an agreement with the European Commission, financed by the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI), which will see COVID-19 testing expanded by National Red Cross Societies in Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain. 

National Red Cross Societies are stepping up their assistance to embattled national health systems across Europe (and worldwide). The European Commission’s funding will help reinforce staff training and enable teams to access equipment, lab items and reagents to take samples and perform PCR and rapid antigen tests in support of national health authorities’ work.

The IFRC Europe Regional Director, Birgitte Ebbesen, underlined that hundreds of thousands of volunteers are working tirelessly to curb the spread of the pandemic:

We are truly grateful for this contribution, which allows an even stronger European Red Cross and Red Crescent engagement. Our volunteers are already working around the clock to keep their local communities safe and healthyBesides COVID-19 testing, they are also assisting with transporting patients, volunteering in hospitals and health centres where medical personnel are sick or isolating, and providing home care services and psychosocial support for vulnerable people. We are deeply grateful for their dedication and selfless work.”

The EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, stated:

Testing tells us what the extent of the spread is, where it is, and how it develops. It is a decisive tool to slow down the spread of COVID-19Being efficient on testing also requires having the necessary resources, which is why we are stepping up our support to increase Member States’ testing capacity. Support and solidarity are key to overcome this pandemic,” she added.


COVID-19 conversations between National Red Cross Societies:

  • How to tackle rising needs and stigma
    With the Hungarian Red Cross and the Slovenian Red Cross: in this link
  • Digital or face-to-face help?
    With the Danish Red Cross and the Finnish Red Cross: in this link
  • Mental health will remain a challenge in the long run
    With the Luxembourg Red Cross and the Portuguese Red Cross: in this link
  • The socio-economic crisis is worrying
    With the Romanian Red Cross and the Swedish Red Cross: in this link
  • Stay safe while helping others
    With the Belgian Red Cross and the Latvian Red Cross: in this link

Press releases by IFRC: 

  • ‘COVID-19: Red Cross Red Crescent steps up European response, urges Governments to strengthen testing, tracing and isolation measures’ in this link
  • ‘Red Cross warns: Vigilance needed as Europe’s intensive care beds fill up’ in this link

For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyón on: or +32 2 235 09 22

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