Europe gears up

UM – 03/2020

On Friday 6 March, the Council of Ministers (EPSCO) will hold a special session for the second time to discuss the corona epidemic. It had previously met on 13 February 2020. The main discussion point was the procurement of medicines and protective equipment to avoid supply shortages, as well as support for non-EU countries in need of assistance (see Council conclusions). The Council also called for increased cooperation at EU and international level.

Facts instead of hysteria

Europe is on high alert and is trying to delay the further spread of the virus. It is important to distinguish between prudent precautions and panic-driven hysteria. Objective facts are key to this. Such information can be found on the GKV-Spitzenverband website, which also includes a list of  additional hotlines, and the DGUV website (both German only). The EU Commission also has comprehensive information available online.

Covid-19 is a relatively mild illness. However, the speed at which it is spreading is alarming. It makes a difference whether a disease spreads within a few weeks or over a longer period of time in a population. Covid-19 infection rates are rising rapidly in some countries.

Risk of infection: high!

Meanwhile, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has raised the risk of infection in the European Union (EU) from moderate to high. There are no border controls under consideration yet. There are already 2,100 confirmed cases in 18 Member States, 38 of which have resulted in death. The highest number of cases (1,700) has been reported in Italy. Authorities in Germany have so far confirmed 150 cases. Worldwide, almost 90,000 cases had been recorded in 68 countries at the beginning of the tenth calendar week.

Covid-19 is a global challenge

The EU is providing more than €232 million to help Member States fight the new virus (see EU press release from 24 Feb 2020). €114 million will go to support the World Health Organisation (WHO), €90 million will go to research partnerships between public institutions and pharmaceutical companies, €15 million will go to Africa and €10 million to other research projects. Three million euros have already been invested in disaster control, including for protective equipment to China. This situation clearly shows that a virus knows no borders.