Coronavirus Outbreak: As Deadly Virus Spreads, Europe is Bracing for Worse to Come

Written by | Monday, February 3rd, 2020
@Eubulletin

There are only four cases of coronavirus reported in Europe, but with no vaccine, health experts are racing to prepare for more. But medical experts have assured European public that health infrastructure on the continent is well prepared to fight the spread of the new virus, named as 2019-nCoV, that has already spread to 17 countries worldwide. The deadly respiratory illness was first detected in China in December and has infected more than 4,500 people globally, killing 106. All deaths so far have been recorded in China, with most around the southern city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. In Europe, about 22 suspected cases of the coronavirus have been detected so far, 14 in the UK, three in France, four in Austria and one in Germany, but the number is projected to rise every day in the near-term future.
European health authorities are preparing to deal with the arrival of infected people from China as the coronavirus spreads beyond Chinese borders. Three airports in the European Union have direct flight connections to Wuhan, while there are indirect flight connections to other European hubs. The Belgian health minister Maggie De Block admitted there remains “a real chance” infections could arise in the country. The spread of the virus has been likened to the SARS outbreak in China several years ago when the country’s authorities were severely criticized for withholding information about the disease, which allowed it to spread widely. But De Block noted that, unlike during the SARS outbreak, “China is this time being very transparent in providing information.”
The European Commission said last Wednesday it is following the outbreak “extremely closely” and was “in the process of coordinating all measures that may be necessary at the EU level.” Nearly 600 European citizens currently travelling or working in China want to be repatriated because of the coronavirus epidemic, the EU said on Wednesday (29 January), as airlines began suspending flights to and from the Asian giant. Earlier in the week, France activated the European civil protection mechanism in order to coordinate the repatriation of European nationals from the city of Wuhan. Under the mechanism, the European Commission will contribute to the cost of the two flights planned for repatriations. Meanwhile, German flagship airline Lufthansa announced on Wednesday that it would suspend all flights to and from mainland China until 9 February. Lufthansa’s decision follows similar moves by American Airlines, British Airways, and several Asian carriers.

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GREEN & SOCIAL EUROPE

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