Coronavirus: Member of EU council staff found to have bug ahead of ministers' emergency meetings

Belgian soldiers patrol the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 4, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - A first case of coronavirus has been detected among staff at the Council of the European Union, a spokesman said on Wednesday (March 4), as ministers of the bloc's 27 member states were to hold emergency meetings there.

The spokesman of the Council, which hosts ministerial meetings and EU summits and has a staff of 3,000, said the person, from the information security unit, was infected in Belgium.

EU home affairs ministers will gather in the Council building in Brussels later on Wednesday for an extraordinary meeting on the migration crisis at borders with Turkey.

On Friday, EU health ministers are expected to hold emergency talks in the same building on the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The spokesman said these meetings would still go ahead, as there were no health risks for attendees. "There should be no disruption to the work of our institutions," he said, adding that was in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.

Earlier on Wednesday, another EU body, the European Defence Agency (EDA), reported a case of coronavirus among its staff.

The official had recently travelled to northern Italy.

An EU official said the two infected individuals had met in recent days, without giving further details.

"The staff member tested positive and is currently at home in self-isolation since symptoms appeared on Saturday evening.

The individual has reported very light symptoms and not returned to the Agency since," EDA said in a statement.

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