EU health ministers reassure public over coronavirus

NEWS 03.02.2020 18:32
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Source: Francis Kokoroko/Reuters

Croatia as the current chair of the Council of the EU is prepared to take responsibility to prevent a global coronavirus crisis, but hopes that will not be necessary, Health Minister Vili Beros said on Monday.

Beros met in Brussels with European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Janez Lenarcic.

The epidemic has already claimed 361 lives and more than 17,000 people have been affected in China and 171 elsewhere.

“We discussed this looming global crisis but hope that it won't come to that,” Beros said. He added that he would organise a conference call with EU health ministers this week.

“Constructive first meeting with the new Croatian Health Minister Mr Vili Beros to discuss the situation of the coronavirus. I reiterated my call for continuous political and technical coordination at EU level and my full support to the EU2020HR,” Commissioner Kyriakides said on her Twitter account.

“This is the time for facts, not fear. The number of cases in the EU so far remains low & the Member States overall have strong health systems & preparedness plans. We stand ready to support the global efforts to tackle the outbreak at its source and contain the spread,” she added.

Crisis measures in cases of epidemics fall within the remit of member states while the European Commission can coordinate their procedures.

Beros would not give his assessment of the danger of the epidemic spreading. “Considering that this is a new virus and a novel disease, as a doctor I have to say that we have to be cautious,” he added.

“There are mathematical and statistical models that are trying to predict the behaviour of this epidemic, but they are not certain. The virus will decide how the epidemic will develop. We have to be prepared to respond. Croatia has this role and we will endeavour to see it through to the end,” he underscored.

The World Health Organisation said on Monday there is no need to introduce any travel or trade restrictions to contain the novel coronavirus.