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First coronavirus case in EU agency in Brussels

BRUSSELS, Belgium Mar 4 – A first EU official working in the bloc’s Brussels administration has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, European officials said Wednesday.

“We have confirmation of the case,” EU Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant told AFP.

A spokeswoman for the European Defence Agency confirmed that a male public servant of the agency had returned from Italy on February 23 and subsequently tested positive.

Meetings at the headquarters of the Brussels-based agency have been cancelled until March 13, Elisabeth Schoeffmann said.

But the EDA spokeswoman denied a report that the official had attended a four-hour meeting with 30 more staff from the other EU bodies in the city before he was diagnosed.

Brussels is the de facto capital of the 27-nation union and home to many of its institutions, including the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament.

Parliament has already limited public access to its buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg, amid fears that large gatherings could hasten the spread of the global outbreak.

More than 90,000 people have been infected and around 3,200 have died worldwide since the virus, which erupted in China but has now spread to dozens of countries worldwide.

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