Coronavirus – How should the EU respond?

With the most recent outbreak of coronavirus, now known by its official name COVID-19, announced over the weekend in Italy, the EU is taking precautions to stem the spread of the virus.

And as of 24 February, 178 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the EU, including 132 cases in Italy which is currently the most affected region. However, according to Italian authorities, this number could be closer to 200.

So far, six deaths have been reported in Italy and one in France.

While there’s no doubt that this novel flu strain is a cause of concern, it’s pertinent to question what the appropriate response is.

It’s now reached to the point where discussions are focusing on whether member states should consider border measures to temporarily suspend Schengen.

At a press conference on Monday (24 February), EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič responded to the possibility of imposing restrictive border measures, highlighting that this is the prerogative of member states and the importance of a measured response in relation to the actual risk that exists.

The EU Commission has recently announced a new €232 million aid package to boost global preparedness, prevention and containment of the virus.

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