Coronavirus EU outbreak: Von der Leyen tested after Michel Barnier confirms infection

Her chief spokesman revealed she last met with the Frenchman almost two weeks ago, and has shown no symptoms associated with the virus. The German will, however, be tested as a precautionary measure in the light of Mr Barnier’s announcement this morning. “President von der Leyen last met Michel Barnier almost two weeks ago to the day,” the spokesman said.

“She has no symptoms and therefore is continuing to work. She will be tested obviously in view of this announcement but for the moment her activities continue exactly as foreseen as they do for the rest of the College.”

European officials who work closely with the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator have been asked to self-isolate and undergo testing to prevent any further spread of coronavirus through the Brussels-based executive.

The spokesman said: “The operations of the Commission continue for the moment as normal but obviously all staff who have been in contact with Michel Barnier are asked to take the necessary precautions.”

Mr Barnier announced the news he had contracted coronavirus this morning via social media

It comes after UK and EU officials decided to call of this week’s post-Brexit Brexit trade negotiations in London as part of an effort to halt the spread of the disease.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Barnier said: “I am doing well and in good spirits. I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team.

“For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together.”

Earlier this week it was confirmed Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans was also self-isolating after coming into contact with a French politician who had tested positive for coronavirus.

Officials confirmed the Dutchman had shown no symptoms but was following guidelines as a precaution.

A Commission spokeswoman said: “Mr Timmermans is feeling very well and is continuing his meetings via video conference.”

The 59-year-old will not be tested for the virus because he doesn’t qualify under Belgian rules.

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Most of the European Union’s activities have ground to a halt as the bloc’s top officials lend a hand to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials have been ordered to work from home, where possible, as part of a Belgium-wide lockdown to curb the spread of the disease.

Next week’s European Council summit, during which 27 heads of government were due to travel to Brussels, has been cancelled.

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A Council statement added: “The members of the European Council agreed this during their video conference of March 17, 2020.

“EU leaders also agreed to hold another video conference next week on the situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The summit, which was due to include a discussion on the UK trade talks, will be moved to a later date.

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