Coronavirus: Extraordinary Meeting of EU Health Ministers on Thursday

Health Ministers of the European Union Member States are set to meet this Thursday, February 12, to further discuss possible preventive measures to be taken against the Coronavirus outbreak.

In the meeting, which has been called by the Italian Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, the ministers are expected to discuss the current situation of the Coronavirus spreading in the EU, and measures that can be taken to fight the outbreak.

Minister Speranza had previously announced that he would require from the other ministers stronger coordination between EU countries in order to react on time in cases like this one while rejecting the possibility for Italy to reintroduce internal Schengen border checks.

The outcome of the meeting can be a possible move to restrict entry for travelers who have recently been to China, as previously confirmed by Jens Spahn, Germany’s Federal Minister of Health in the fourth Merkel cabinet.

During a meeting held last week, between Minister Spahn and his French counterpart Agnes Buzyn, he has said that possible travel restrictions are being discussed.

Indeed, there is the question of possible travel restrictions or at least increased examination [of travelers] at the border,” Minister Spahn had revealed

He had also asserted that it doesn’t make sense for a single country to take measures on a continent with border-free travel between most nations, pointing out that the EU members would have to harmonize these measures for Europe’s whole border-less area.

There is no sense in one country taking this type of decision while citizens move around freely…We would like closer cooperation so that we have exactly the same measures in all countries in order to be consistent in Europe since there is this free movement of people, and we wish to maintain this free movement,” French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn had added.

European governments could consider a US-style ban on foreign visitors who have recently been to China, in a bid to impede the spread of the deadly Coronavirus outbreak, the health ministers of France and Germany said on Tuesday.

So far, all Schengen Member Countries but France, have halted the admission of Schengen Visa application and visa issuance, in the light of the current Coronavirus alert, at least until February 17th.

A source of had confirmed that Europe would take more measures than only suspending visa issuance in China, in late January.

“…if the virus keeps spreading at the current tempo, the EU may introduce entry restrictions by the end of the week to Chinese nationals and recent visitors to mainland China,” the source said, claiming that suspension of visa issuance for the nationals of a few countries in addition to China, is also an option if the situation does not improve for the better.

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