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EU president abandons Brexit summit after 30 minutes due to official’s Covid-19 test result

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen making a speech at the London School of Economics in Holborn, central London. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

EU president Ursula von der Leyen was forced to abandon a high level summit after 30 minutes after a member of her team tested positive for coronavirus.

Von der Leyen was in a room with all 27 EU heads of state before rushing out “as a precaution”.

The president had spent time greeting leaders in Brussels and had been engaging in bilateral talks with the prime ministers of Portugal and the Czech Republic before being told of the result.

She had been due to give a press conference with Charles Michel, who heads the European Council, to provide an update on Brexit trade negotiations.

Von der Leyen has so far tested negative for the virus.

“I have just been informed that a member of my front office has tested positive to COVID-19 this morning. I myself have tested negative,” she posted on her official Twitter account.

“However as a precaution I am immediately leaving the European Council to go into self-isolation.”

This comes prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a continuation of Brexit negotiations past the October 15 deadline despite telling the EU he was ready to walk away from talks if a deal was not agreed to by then.

An insider told Bloomberg that Downing Street officials remain optimistic about a deal as long as both sides enter an intense period of negotiations, known as the “tunnel” phase, in the coming days.