Containment of Coronavirus ‘Working’ in EU, Germany Says after Health Ministers’ Meeting
The German Health Minister has praised some of China’s anti-epidemic measures, while describing others as excessive.
The measures taken by the EU to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Europe are working for the time being, according to Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn, who spoke after an emergency meeting of EU Health Ministers.
“So far, in Europe and the European Union, detection and containment is working,” Spahn said after meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels on Thursday.
“But we have to admit, that’s today. It could get worse before it gets better, because as long as it’s not under control in China, these regional epidemics can transform into a worldwide pandemic,” he stated, as cited by DW.
“So far it’s just a regional epidemic outbreak in China, but we need to be sure that it does not become a real epidemic or a pandemic worldwide,” Spahn said.
In his words, a coordinated approach within the EU and internationally is required, and it is important to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus to ensure it does not proliferate in regions beyond China.
“[At the meeting in Brussels, the EU Health Ministers discussed] measures regarding travel, while safeguarding the free movement within the EU,” according to their joint statement.
Spahn, who cautioned that “things could get worse before they get better”, pointed out restrictive measures with respect to travel to China that are already in place.
He noted that pilots on direct flights from China to Germany were already required to report passengers with symptoms on approach for landing.
“We might need additional measures to know which passengers have been in contact with people from the Wuhan region, and that is what we have discussed here at the [European] Council,” Spahn said.
The German Health Minister also stated he believed in the existence of more coronavirus cases than public figures currently reflect.
“We know that there are many, many symptom-free cases. So I would assume there are many more cases than we see in the statistics,” he said.
At the same time, he praised much of the work that China has done to contain the virus, while also implying that some measures taken in China might have been too draconian.
“For example, if there is a measles outbreak in Germany, and measles are much more infectious than what we see with the coronavirus so far, we actually are able to deal with it without putting whole cities under quarantine,” he explained.
Earlier this week, the EU had seen a total of 33 coronavirus cases in a total of six EU member states.
So far, Germany has registered 16 cases of coronavirus. Fourteen of those were connected to a German-Chinese auto parts company in Bavaria, and the other two were passengers on flights to Frankfurt am Main airport who were identified on arrival.
The epidemic of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, has killed 1,367 people and infected nearly 60,000 worldwide
On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the 15th case of the coronavirus in the US, with the infected person placed under quarantine at an airbase in Texas.
Meanwhile, Vietnam placed 10,000 under quarantine after six coronavirus cases were found in a cluster of villages, making it the first lockdown of its kind outside of China.
(Banner image: Jens Spahn on Twitter)