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First EU official in Brussels tests positive for Covid-19

The male official had recently returned from Italy.

Image: Shutterstock/Predrag Jankovic

A FIRST CASE of Covid-19 has been confirmed in the EU offices in Brussels. 

The case comes as concern grows about the spread of coronavirus in Europe. 

“We have confirmation of the case,” Dana Spinant said. According to Euractiv, the male official worked at the European Defence Agency and had recently returned from Italy.

This week, the EU raised the threat level from coronavirus to “moderate to high”

A spokeswoman for the European Defence Agency confirmed that a male public servant of the agency had returned from Italy on February 23 and subsequently tested positive.

Meetings at the headquarters of the Brussels-based agency have been cancelled until March 13, Elisabeth Schoeffmann said.

But the EDA spokeswoman denied a report that the official had attended a four-hour meeting with 30 more staff from the other EU bodies in the city before he was diagnosed.

Brussels is home to the major institutions of the European Union, including the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament. 

Ireland

The second case of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland was confirmed by the Department of Health last night. 

As of today, there have been over 93,000 cases of Covid-19 worldwide, with over 3,200 deaths. Italy remains the country with the highest number of cases in Europe, with 2,502. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said that non-essential travel to four Italian regions should now be avoided. 

The advice against travelling refers to the Lombardy, Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna regions in northern Italy. 

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.

As of yesterday, a total of 397 people have been tested for Covid-19 in Ireland. 

Guidelines surrounding mass gathering are expected to be published in next few days, with the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin currently unlikely to be cancelled according to Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. 

For the last two days, Google has asked the majority of staff in Dublin to work from home after a staff member reported flu-like symptoms. 

With reporting from Dominic McGrath 

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