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EU warns coronavirus could cause ‘huge economic and societal disruption’

European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control says probability of further transmission of ‘high’ despite efforts

The Coronavirus outbreak could cause “huge economic and societal disruption”, the EU’s centre for disease control has warned.

In its Monday update on the spread of the disease the ECDC said that “the risk associated with COVID-19 infection for people in the EU/EEA and UK is currently considered moderate to high”.

The EU agency, which was established shortly after the 2003 SARS outbreak to help coordinate the continent’s response to infectious diseases, said that “many unknowns remain regarding the virulence, the mode of transmission, the reservoir and the source of infection” of COVID-19.

The centre said in its risk assessment as of 2 March 2020: “The probability of further transmission in the EU/EEA and the UK is considered high. There is still a level of uncertainty regarding several unpredictable factors in a situation that is still evolving.”

It said that evidence so far showed 80 per cent of cases of the virus are mild and that “most cases” recover, that 14 per cent have “more severe” disease, with 6 per cent causing “critical” illness.

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“The great majority of the most severe illnesses, and deaths, have occurred among the elderly and those with other chronic underlying conditions,” the Monday risk assessment said.

“In addition to the public health impacts with substantial fatal outcomes in high-risk groups, COVID-19 outbreaks can cause huge economic and societal disruptions.”

The OECD this morning said it viewed the virus as the “greatest danger” to the global economic sine the financial crisis.

Major international events and meetings around the world, such as Paris fashion week and the Venice carnival, have been cancelled or scaled back to curtail the spread of the disease.

Central banks, including the Bank of England, on Monday hinted that they could provide economic stimulus to help cushion the impact of the virus outbreak.

Last week major stock markets suffered their worst weekly performance since the 2008 crash amid fears that the virus could disrupt economic activity.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this morning that the EU had raised its coronavirus risk level from “moderate” to “moderate to high” for those in the European Union.

She announced that the bloc was setting up a Coronavirus response team coordinated by five European Commissioners.

The most recent global analysis from the World Health Organisation (WHO), published on Sunday show that among a sample of 44,672 patients in China, death rates are estimated to be 1 per cent to 2 per cent.


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