EU leaders to hold almost weekly video-conferences on COVID-19 pandemic

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders have agreed to hold video conferences almost on a weekly basis to coordinate national measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, as the continent battles a spike in infections.

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 avoid a repetition of divisions seen after the first outbreaks.

"There was an agreement that we would, almost weekly now, engage in consultation with each other in terms of best methods and the best approaches to deal with this second wave of the spread of COVID-19," Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Friday at an EU summit.

's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said regular video-conferences would help coordinate moves on tracing, restrictive measures, vaccines and therapies.

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.

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But national measures remain vastly different.

Quarantine length for those who had been in contact with people who were ill was 14 days across the bloc until a few weeks ago, when many countries began shortening it while others stuck to the global standard.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio and Kate Abnett; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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