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Covid-19: EU raises risk level to 'moderate to high'

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control updated the risk level facing the EU.

Italy has been hit worst so far by the coronavirus.
Italy has been hit worst so far by the coronavirus.
Image: Mondadori Portfolio/SIPA USA/PA Images

THE COVID-19 THREAT to European has risen to “moderate to high”. 

At a press conference this morning, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control had upped the coronavirus risk level. 

“In other words, the virus continues to spread,” von der Leyen said this morning. 

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said that the risk of a widespread, sustained transmission of Covid-19 in Europe had risen to “moderate to high”. 

The top level is “high”. 

In Ireland, a school in Dublin will today begin its two-week closing period after it was confirmed that a pupil was diagnosed with Covid-19. 

The male diagnosed with Covid-19 is a pupil at the school which is understood to be based in Glasnevin, Dublin 9. He is currently receiving medical treatment. 

This was the second case of the virus on the island of Ireland after a woman in Northern Ireland was confirmed on Thursday to have been diagnosed with the virus.  

EU officials stressed today that there was a high and ongoing level of co-operation between member states for addressing the spread of Covid-19.

While Italy has so far seen the most widespread outbreak of coronavirus, countries across the EU have reported a growing number of cases.

As things stand, 130 cases have been reported in France, 129 in Germany and 83 in Spain. 

The EU has launched a “corona response team” to respond to the virus and said that it would continue to liaise with health minister across the EU in a bid to tackle the crisis. 

“No country can deal with it alone. We have to work together,” said Janez Lenarčič, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management. 

Ireland has advised citizens not to travel to affected areas in northern Italy, but EU officials today said that there was no talk of closing borders in the Schengen area. 

EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, speaking at the press conference, also warned that it was too soon to predict what the economic impact of Covid-19 will be, but said that hopes of a quick recovery might now be too optimistic. 

“Just because is too soon to measure the downside doesn’t mean we can minimise it,” he said. 

“The EU is ready to use all available policy options if and when needed to safeguard growth against these downside risks,” he aded. 

Ireland

Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning that the staff and pupils at the school have been asked to “limit social interactions” as much as possible.

A telephone helpline has been established for those involved and a public meeting will be held tonight in the local area. 

Worldwide, about 89,000 people have been infected and over 3,000 people killed since the virus was first detected late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

China yesterday reported a fresh spike in infections, with 573 new cases – the highest figure in a week after a dip. All but three of them were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital. 

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The virus has spread to more than 60 countries around the globe, prompting the World Health Organisation to raise its risk assessment to its highest level.

According to the most extensive study done so far, the novel coronavirus was benign in 80.9% of cases, “serious” in 13.8% and “critical” in 4.7%.

The remaining 0.6% was not specified.

Part of the reason Covid-19 has been declared a public health emergency is due to the speed at which it has spread compared to other coronaviruses (like Sars and Mers) and the fact that there’s a lot about the disease we still don’t know – including how exactly it’s being transmitted.

Speaking to media this morning, von der Leyen described the risk posed by coronavirus to the EU as “high”. The European Centre for Disease Prevention said she had misspoken and that the risk had now changed to “moderate to high”, as opposed to “high”.

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