Coronavirus Emergency: EU Raises Risk Level to ‘High’ as Virus Spreads Throughout Europe

Written by | Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

New coronavirus cases spiked dramatically all across Europe over the past two days (1-2 March), with ‘front-runner’ Italy reporting hundreds of new cases and a total death toll climbing to a total of 34. The number of confirmed cases also jumped in France and the UK, nearly doubled in Germany, with the Czech Republic reporting its first case. Outside of Europe, Iran and South Korea also struggle to contain the coronavirus outbreak: Tehran raised its death toll from 43 to 54 as its number of confirmed infections rose by more than half to 978, while South Korea, which battles the worst coronavirus outbreak outside China, has reported 3,730 cases and 21 deaths so far.
As governments around the world aim to shield their economies from the effects of the coronavirus, the Group of Seven (G7) developed countries will take “concerted action” to limit the effects of the outbreak on economic growth and their finance ministers will discuss by phone this week how best to tackle the escalating crisis, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 2 TV channel on Monday (2 March). “We must act so that this impact that we know will be important on growth, be as limited as possible,” he added. Le Maire also said Eurozone finance ministers would be in touch with each other and that he would speak with European Central Bank (ECB) chief Christine Lagarde.
When the coronavirus outbreak was still only affecting China, the France’s finance minister had expected the crisis to trim 0.1 percentage points from French economic growth this year. With the outbreak now affecting more and more countries, “the impact on French growth will be much more significant,” Le Maire admitted, the worst-hit sectors being hotel, restaurant, air transport, tourism and event sectors. His German counterpart, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, told the media that Germany must not allow the coronavirus outbreak to infect its economic growth. Asked about the possibility of implementing economic stimulus, Altmaier said he was open to tax incentives and enhanced write-down measures for companies.

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