Coronavirus: EU warns healthcare capacity could be exceeded
The risk is high that European healthcare systems will be overwhelmed by the new coronavirus outbreak, the EU's health agency warns.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also called for a slew of measures to be implemented to halt the spread of the deadly disease – including quarantines of confirmed or suspected carriers and bans on mass gatherings.
The Stockholm-based agency said on Thursday that systems in EU countries and the European Economic Area (EAA) – Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway – along with Britain could be overstretched.
"The risk of healthcare system capacity being exceeded in the EU/EAA and the UK in the coming weeks is considered high," the ECDC said in a statement.
It also recommended "social distancing" measures at workplaces and cancellation of non-essential work travel and meetings, as well as measures to be taken at schools, including possible closures.
And it urged "cordon... of residential areas with high levels of community transmission".
Meanwhile, the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said in a Twitter post that measures to curb the spread of the disease were "more than ever necessary across EU".
"Only with aggressive containment action can we delay the transmission of COVID-19. Many member states have already taken far-reaching measures, impacting the daily lives of our citizens and economy," Kyriakides said.
There are more than 22,000 people infected in Europe, where nearly 950 people have died from the illness. The vast majority, however, experience only mild symptoms and fully recover.