‘We underestimated coronavirus’ says head of European Commission as EU shuts its borders

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen admitted in an interview with the German daily Bild, that along with other politicians, she underestimated the new type of coronavirus.

“I think all of us who are not experts underestimated the coronavirus at the beginning,” said von der Leyen. But now, she believes, everyone has understood that measures that seemed drastic two or three weeks ago are necessary at the moment given that Europe became the center of the crisis.

“Our healthcare system is already under heavy strain,” said the European Commission president, adding that new measures, including the closure of the EU’s external borders for 30 days, are needed to relieve the healthcare system.

Concerning intra-Union cross-border transport, von der Leyen believes that in the coming days, it will be possible to ensure that it is free from problems again.

Border closures and stricter checks now lead to long jams between many European nations. For example, yesterday, there was a 60-kilometer column on the German A4 motorway into Poland.

Von der Leyen’s interview statements come following the EU’s decision yesterday to ban all non-EU citizens and non-residents from entering the EU, a drastic measure that follows in the footsteps of United States President Donald Trump’s decision to ban all travel from Europe into the U.S.

The ban will be in place for 30 days and will not affect Europeans returning home, cross-border workers, or citizens from former EU member Great Britain.

Other measures such as curfews are, according to von der Leyen, at the discretion of individual member states. “It is also important to respect the measures,” said the head of the European Commission.

Von der Leyen points out that such measures are not based on EU regulations and adds that Europe is likely to face coronavirus for a long time.

Title image: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses the media after a video-conference with G7 leaders at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, March 16, 2020. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants the European Union to put in place a 30-day ban on people entering the bloc for non-essential travel reasons in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

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