First confirmed case of COVID-19 in the EU institutions

A view of a map of the world displayed on a screen showing the evolution of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, at the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) in Brussels on 2 March 2020. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

*Adds EDA’s clarification about meeting

In an internal mail seen by EURACTIV, the European Defence Agency (EDA) confirmed that one of its staff members has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and it therefore cancelled all meetings to be held at its premises until 13 March as a precautionary measure.

An EDA source confirmed the information to EURACTIV.

The precautionary decision was based on new guidance received by the EU inter-institutional medical board, the mail says.

The mail was sent to the network of national Points of Contacts (POCs), which coordinated the agency’s work with the member states.

The EU agency has also decided to cancel all staff participation IN external meetings until 13 March and will revert at a later date to reschedule the meetings that have been cancelled.

According to a source who spoke to EURACTIV on condition of anonymity, the senior EDA official who contracted the virus had returned from a trip to Italy last week.

After having travelled to Italy, he had a meeting with roughly 30 officials from other EU institutions last week, which lasted roughly four hours.

The official started feeling sick on Saturday (29th February) and tested positive for COVID-19, the source said.

After the publication, the EDA told EURACTIV that “our colleague has not attended a meeting with 30 officials of other EU institutions last week before his diagnosis. The few officials from other institutions he had met have been informed promptly”.

A member of the military staff of the European External Action Service (EEAS) who attended the meeting has started experiencing symptoms and is now waiting for the outcome of the test, the source added.

An EEAS source further said that the other participants of the meeting have since held other meeting and/or travelled.

Other EU institutions have adopted precautionary measures asking employees who have travelled in areas affected by the novel coronavirus not to go to their offices and instead work from home.

COVID-19: European Parliament staff recently visiting northern Italy asked to stay home

European Parliament employees who have travelled in areas of Italy affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) within the last fortnight are asked not to go to their offices and instead work from home in the next two weeks, according to an email sent by the human resources bureau and seen by EURACTIV.

[Alexandra Brzozowski contributed to reporting; Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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