No health emergency but virus hits politics in EU's heart
BRUSSELS (AP) — A European Union summit via computer. The EU parliament a virtual ghost village in a shortened session. The assembly’s president working from home, self-isolating because of coronavirus.
The disease that shutdown Italy hasn't hit Brussels in a major way, but it has struck at the heart of politics in Europe.
In a rare event, the EU’s presidents and prime ministers were set to hold a video conference summit Tuesday to coordinate efforts to respond to the outbreak that has seen a national lockdown imposed in member state Italy.
During their virtual meeting, which will be also attended by European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the leaders will discuss how to coordinate their response to the virus and its economic consequences. They have also pledged to accelerate research into the disease.
“When the European Union is confronted with a threat of this size, the only option is to mobilize and to stand strong together," European Council President Charles Michel, who will chair the multi-screen summit, told lawmakers in Brussels.
The European Commission says all 27 member states now have patients confirmed with the fast-spreading illness.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
The EU's commissioner for health and food safety, Stella Kyriakides, urged EU countries to...