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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 17 February, 2020

European health ministers convene special meeting over coronavirus outbreak

The death toll worldwide has reached more than 1,300 in recent days.

Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

HEALTH MINISTERS FROM across Europe are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels today to discuss measures to control the coronavirus. 

Health Minister Simon Harris will be among the ministers attending the meeting. 

There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, in Ireland but a number of people have confirmed cases of it in the UK. 

Speaking in advance of the meeting Harris said: “There are no cases of coronavirus in Ireland but we remain vigilant.

“The National Public Health Emergency Team is covering and providing direction and expert advice across the health service and the wide public service, on the response to Covid-19.

“It is important Ireland continues to monitor the situation and to participate in the international assessment of response to Covid-19 through the European Centre for Disease Control and the WHO. 

“We should continue to work on a European level to ensure all measures are taken.”

In a guide to recognising the virus, the Department of Health said it can take 14 days to develop, and can lead to symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. 

Meanwhile, China’s official death toll from the coronavirus has spiked dramatically after authorities changed their counting methods, fueling concern the epidemic is far worse than being reported.

Two top-ranking politicians overseeing the epicentre of the outbreak were also fired, adding to questions over China’s handling of the crisis, just hours after President Xi Jinping claimed “positive results” in battling the outbreak.

The World Health Organisation also quickly countered Chinese reassurances that the epidemic, which has now officially killed more than 1,350 people in China, would peak in a matter of weeks.

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