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The Shengen Agreement will not be suspended

European Union is not planning to suspend the Schengen Agreement, not even partially, despite the Coronavirus outbreak all over Europe now, with a number of about 280 persons touched by the virus in Italy alone.

The EU officials believe reintroducing border checks will not contribute anyhow to the slowdown of the virus spreading in Europe, but it would instead turn the countries into “lazarettos” as the Italian Primer said when asked whether Italy would shut down borders as a prevention measure.

Suspend Schengen? But what do we want to make of Italy, a lazaretto?!” he sarcastically told journalists on Monday during a press conference.

This is a draconian measure that does not meet the needs of Italian citizens in the field of containment of infection,” he added, regarding the suspension of the Schengen Agreement.

So far, new cases have been detected in Croatia, Spain, Switzerland, and Austria, today only. Despite that the latter had warned it would consider reintroducing border checks with Italy, instead, they have only tightened airport border controls.

The Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz announced that Austria would introduce more strict controls, which did not amount to the reintroduction of border checks.

As far as the borders and cross-border traffic are concerned, we will proceed as follows: we will further tighten warning systems with our neighbours; [and] we will immediately order a stop in the event of suspected cases, as happened last night,” Kurz said on Monday.

Whereas in a meeting held by the EU Commission in a bid to boost global preparedness, prevention and containment of the virus, the Commission decided to allocate an amount of €232 million, in this regard.

As cases continue to rise, public health is the number one priority. Whether it be boosting preparedness in Europe, in China or elsewhere, the international community must work together. Europe is here to play a leading role,” Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission said upon the meeting.

Whereas the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management and European Emergency Response Coordinator Janez Lenarčič said the aid package will support the World Health Organisation and target funding to ensure countries with weaker health systems are not left behind.

“Our goal is to contain the outbreak at a global level,” he said.

In the last four days, the number of people detected containing the Coronavirus in Italy has gone over 280. So far, seven cases have resulted in death, all of them elderly persons.

So far, ten towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto are under lockdown, with some 50,000 residents prohibited from leaving. Regional authorities have ordered gathering spots, such as bars, restaurants and discos to close.