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EU ministers hold urgent talks on virus

February 14, 2020 00:00:00

BRUSSELS, Feb 13 (AP): European Union health ministers were holding an emergency meeting Thursday on how to prevent the COVID-19 virus from further spreading across Europe.

Ministers from the bloc's 27 member states gather in Brussels amid the outbreak, which has infected around 60,000 people worldwide. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization's emergencies program, will also join the debate via video link.

More people have now died from COVID-19 than during the SARS outbreak, but no death has been reported in Europe so far. Less than 50 suspected cases have been registered on the continent but the EU insists coordinated action is required to keep these figures low.

COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that's a close cousin to the severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

Janez Lenar?i?, the commissioner for crisis management, said before the meeting that the risk of COVID-19 further spreading in Europe remains "low, but it may increase."

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