In Brief

Covid case at EU meeting forces ministers and top officials into quarantine

Bloc’s trade chief and German economic minister are among those now self-isolating

Trade ministers and top-level EU officials who attended a meeting in Berlin earlier this week are having to self-isolate after a junior member of the Irish delegation tested positive for Covid-19. 

Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who chaired the meeting on Monday, announced his decision to enter quarantine in a tweet that said a “member on an EU minister’s staff attending the Council of Trade Ministers” had afterwards been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.

EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis also announced on Wednesday that he had “taken a test and am self-isolating and working at home” after coming into contact with the unnamed carrier. 

Two EU officials told Politico that the carrier “was in the Irish delegation”, which included Irish Trade Minister Leo Varadkar. The former taoiseach is also now in quarantine. 

“EU trade officials said it was unclear whether other trade ministers were going into quarantine,” adds the site, which notes that Poland’s Jadwiga Emilewicz and France’s Franck Riester were among those who turned up in person for the meeting. 

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton was also there, but EU officials reportedly “said he was not self-isolating because he did not have close contact with the Irish staffer”.

Altmaier is the second top German minister to go into self-isolation this week. Foreign Minister Maas announced in a statement of Wednesday that he had put himself into quarantine “after a member of his personal protection team was infected with Covid-19”.

Deutsche Welle reports that Maas was “forced to call off” a planned trip to Jordan as a result. 

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