EU leaders to hold COVID-19 video-conference Oct.29

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FILE PHOTO: European Council President Charles Michel takes off his mask at a post-EU summit news conference in Brussels, Belgium October 16, 2020. Olivier Mattys/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders will hold a video-conference next week to discuss how to better cooperate against the COVID-19 pandemic as infections rise, European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter on Wednesday, confirming a previous Reuters report.

The video-conference, to be held on Oct. 29, will be the first of a series of regular discussions that EU leaders have committed to hold, to tackle the pandemic.

“We need to strengthen our collective effort to fight COVID-19,” Michel said in the tweet.

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The discussion, due to start in the late afternoon, will take place a day after the EU Commission is expected to announce new plans to strengthen coordination among EU states on testing strategies, contact tracing and quarantine length, officials told Reuters.

The EU’s 27 nations fought COVID-19 with different, sometimes contrasting measures, in the first months of the pandemic. The tighter coordination is expected to prevent a repeat of the divisions seen after the first outbreaks.

A certain degree of coordination has emerged in recent weeks and months on some issues, such as vaccine procurement and common non-binding criteria to assess the gravity of the epidemic at national level.

But national measures still vary considerably.

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The length of quarantine for those who have been in contact with sick people had been 14 days across the EU until recently, when some countries began shortening it.

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