Coronavirus: EU health ministers meet as deaths mount — live updates

EU health ministers are holding an emergency meeting as the daily death toll from coronavirus sets a new record in China. The World Health Organization has said it’s “too early” to say when the epidemic will end.

  • EU health ministers are in Brussels for an emergency meeting on how to prevent the virus from spreading in Europe. 
  • China’s Hubei province has registered the highest-ever one-day total of infections and deaths from coronavirus following a change in how it counts cases.
  • The World Health Organization has said it is “way too early” to predict when the outbreak will end. 
  • The epidemic — officially named COVID-19 — has killed 1,367 people and infected nearly 60,000 worldwide

All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

11:15 The chief of the Communisty Party in Hubei province, where the outbreak started, has been stripped of his post. Jian Chaoliang is seemingly the highest-ranking official to have been ousted over the local government’s reaction to the outbreak. He will be replaced by the former mayor of Shanghai, who is a protegé of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

11:03 German Health Minister Jens Spahn has said that it “doesn’t make sense” for Germany to impose coronavirus-related travel restrictions. Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of EU health ministers in Brussels on Thursday, Spahn said that because of the EU’s open-border policies, a national decision wouldn’t be effective.

It is important that the bloc make such decisions together, he said.

11:01 The only direct flight between Berlin and Peking has been suspended until the end of March due to coronavirus.

10:51 The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that, at this point, it is too early to make predictions about how the outbreak will develop.

“I think it’s way too early to try to predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic right now,” said Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program, on Wednesday.

10:47 In Europe this morning, EU health ministers have gathered in Brussels for an emergency meeting to discuss how to prevent the virus — known officially as COVID-19 — from spreading across Europe.

An EU official who asked to remain anonymous said the meeting is to discuss health questions. Issues such as travel bans or restrictions will likely be avoided, as such measures are up to each individual country to decide.

10:46  Here’s a review of the latest numbers: a record 14,800 new cases of coronavirus were reported within 24 hours in China’s Hubei province on Thursday. The death toll from the virus in Hubei province also jumped by a record 242 fatalities, more than doubling the previous record number of 103 deaths set on Monday, partly due to changes in how the deaths are tallied.

Health officials announced Thursday they had begun including people diagnosed using new clinical methods in official statistics.

10:45 Welcome to our live blog on world events connected with the coronavirus outbreak.