Is the EU prepared for coronavirus?

As the number of coronavirus fatalities continues to rise, European health authorities have warned that Europe needs to be prepared to tackle the virus if it spreads from China.

Over 400 people have been infected with the respiratory virus in China, and there have been cases reported in Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and the US. As the disease can be transmitted between humans, it’s possible that it could spread further.

Some of the symptoms of the virus include  respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some of the more severe symptoms can include pneumonia, kidney failure and acute respiratory syndrome.

According to the  European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the risk of the virus reaching the EU is currently “moderate”. However, it also said the risk could increase this month as people travel to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

The Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-)emerging Epidemics (PREPARE), which is an EU project that aims to respond to outbreaks, says, “We consider that there’s a credible threat for a pandemic also in Europe.”

“Now, fortunately, we know the sequence — the Chinese released that information 10 days ago — and a test has been validated by European researchers.”

“The sequencing data was released very fast, the diagnostics test was developed very fast and we’re already discussing the clinical protocol. I’ve never seen this kind of response in previous epidemics or pandemics,”

PREPARE has taken steps to prepare for this in case of an outbreak by setting up diagnostic labs and starting research into this strain of coronavirus, as this is a new strain and, at the moment, there is no vaccine to protect against it.

During the winter season, supporting these labs could be crucial in stopping it spreading, as demand for testing could peak during this season due to higher numbers of winter flu cases.

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