Next weeks session of the European parliament will be moved from Strasbourg to Brussels due to “significantly higher health risks”, the chambers Speaker David Sassoli announced Thursday, as France reported more cases of the new coronavirus.
“The situation related to the spread of the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has evolved over the last few days and hours. In particular, new infection clusters have been confirmed and case numbers are rising,” Sassoli said in a statement.
“The necessary security conditions are not in place for the usual transfer of the European Parliament to Strasbourg for the plenary session next week,” he added.
The European parliament has chambers both in Strasbourg, in eastern France, and Brussels.
The parliamentary session is due to be held between Monday and Thursday next week.
Several political groups had expressed the wish to transfer the meeting to Brussels due to the rise in coronavirus cases in France.
The French health ministry reported Thursday three more deaths from coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total to seven, and 138 new cases since Wednesday.
It was the biggest one-day jump in the number of French cases since the outbreak began, raising the total to 423.
In Belgium, 50 people have been confirmed as having the virus, only two of them in Brussels, with no fatalities.
Two staff members working for the EU administration in Brussels have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and are receiving treatment, European officials said Wednesday.
One case, a man working at the European Defence Agency (EDA), had returned from Italy on February 23.
The second, who works in security for the European Council, is thought to have been infected in Brussels after having contact with the first man.