EU to step up virus help for Africa

EU countries agreed Friday to boost help for Africa in its coronavirus fight, as the bloc’s top diplomat warned that poor countries with weak healthcare could become sources of reinfection.

During talks held by video link, foreign ministers from the 27 EU countries approved a plan to step up assistance, with details to be worked out by development ministers next week.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who chaired Friday’s meeting, said the bloc was keenly aware it could not solve the COVID-19 pandemic on its own.

“Even if you solve the problem in Europe it will not be solved if it is not solved everywhere,” he said.

“Africa is of particular concern to us because the pandemic there could get out of control very rapidly.”

The meeting of development ministers on April 8 aims to put together a “Team Europe” financial package based on contributions from EU institutions as well as member state governments.

But with EU budgets already nearing their limits and national governments focused on fighting the epidemic at home, it remains to be seen how much spare capacity is available for Africa.