The risk of coronavirus in the European Union has been raised from moderate to high, the president of the European Commission said today.
Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement as Brussels confirmed its first cases of the disease.
“The ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) has announced today that the risk level has risen from moderate to high for people in the European Union. In other words, the virus continues to spread,” she told a news conference in Brussels.
Health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said 2,100 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in 18 of the 27 EU states, and 38 EU citizens had died because of the disease.
Globally there have been 3,048 deaths and 89,107 confirmed cases according to John Hopkins University.
Separately, Paul Cosford, Public Health England’s emeritus medical director, told Sky News: “With the increasing numbers that we are seeing in a range of different countries and beginning to see here, it is more likely now that we will see more widespread transmission.
“We have to be prepared for that, and a range of different eventualities, and it’s right to say that some of those might be quite challenging for us. But we will have the best preparations that we can possibly have in place for them.”
Cosford said there is a “limit” to what people can do to slow the spread and intensity of the infection.
“There is a limit to exactly what we can do and it is important that we continue with our normal day-to-day lives.
“There may be circumstances when we ask people to reduce the amount of social contact they have outside of work and going to school in order to try to slow the spread of infection, and reduce the intensity of the peak of any wave of infection that might arise so that we can all deal with it more straightforwardly.
“It might be that if an individual is ill, we might ask the family to self-isolate alongside the individual – those sorts of things are being considered. As soon as we need to give different advice we will do and we will make that clear,” he said.
A south London school yesterday told parents that it would be closing for a week after a confirmed case of coronavirus among its staff.
Wimbledon College said it would be closed until 10 March after one of its teachers contracted the virus during a trip to Italy.