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First coronavirus death in Brussels’s EU institutions

Published on March 23, 2020

A male employee at the European Parliament has become the first person in the main EU governing institutions in Brussels to die after contracting the new coronavirus, officials told AFP on Monday.

A parliament spokesman told AFP the man was “external personnel” and his death was, “according to the current state of information, due to the coronavirus”.

He expressed the parliament’s regret at confirming the death.

A parliamentary source said the deceased man was an Italian citizen in his 40s who worked in the parliament’s IT service.

Europe is now the epicentre of the global outbreak of a new form of coronavirus that causes a disease known as COVID-19, and Belgium has recorded 3,743 cases and 88 deaths.

Authorities acknowledge that the true tally of infections is much higher but testing is currently limited to hospitalised patients with severe symptoms and health workers with fever.

A number of workers at the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament have become infected, among them the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier who is in quarantine in his native France.

The EU institutions and agencies have sent many staff to work from home, and Belgium has closed its borders, ordered schools, bars and restaurants shut, banned mass gatherings and is issuing fines for unnecessary trips outside the home.