EU Commission chief cancels planned visit to Athens


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has canceled Thursday’s planned visit to Athens due to developments with the coronavirus epidemic in Italy and other parts of Europe.

“In view of the evolving situation in Europe related to #COVID19 and in agreement with the Greek PM @kmitsotakis, I have decided to postpone my trip to Athens tomorrow,” she said in a post on Twitter on Wednesday night.

“I will be focusing on launching the EU coordination efforts announced yesterday,” von der Leyen added, referring to the decisions from a meeting of commissioners on the bloc’s response to the rapid spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, the Italian government ordered the closure of all shops except supermarkets and pharmacies across the country, in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak after deaths spiked 31 percent in just one day, bringing the total toll in Italy to 827.