Austria's Minister for Social Affairs Rudolf Anschober, left, talks with European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic during the Ministers of Health meeting on the coronavirus in Brussels on Thursday.
Austria’s Minister for Social Affairs Rudolf Anschober, left, talks with European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic during the Ministers of Health meeting on the coronavirus in Brussels on Thursday. Credit: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

European officials stressed the need for a coordinated European Union (EU) response to the coronavirus at a meeting of the Health Council in Brussels Thursday.

Janez Lenarčič, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, emphasized a focus on “preparedness.”

Lenarčič also underlined the need for cooperation, adding that “in this situation we have to act as a union.”

He said ministers will discuss the necessity of border checks, and said that although the number of cases in Europe is still low, the EU has “to be prepared in case this situation gets worse.”

German health minister Jens Spahn addressed questions about the potential closure of the Schengen free movement area by stressing the need for a “common approach.”

Spahn said unilateral decisions regarding Schengen make “no sense.”

Maggie De Block, Belgium’s minister of social affairs and public health, said the coordinated efforts of European health agencies have also been important in preventing shortages.

“For the moment we don’t see any reason to have shortages in the following months, said De Block.