Latest news updates: ECB vice-president tests positive for Covid-19 ahead of policy meeting

Luis de Guindos, vice president of the European Central Bank, tested positive for Covid-19 and is isolating himself before Thursday’s crucial monetary policy meeting to decide how many bonds to buy next year.

The ECB announced Sunday night that De Guindos had tested positive for the virus despite being twice vaccinated, adding that he “has not been in contact” with central bank president Christine Lagarde “in the last week” .

De Guindos usually appears alongside Lagarde to broadcast her press conference after policy meetings of the ECB’s governing council. The ECB said it would work from home “until further notice, and there will be no impact at this week’s monetary policy meeting.”

The Frankfurt-based bank said De Guindos’s symptoms were “very mild” and was informing everyone it has recently been in close contact with.

It had already been decided that this week’s council meeting would be in a completely virtual format, after coronavirus infections in Germany rose to record levels in recent weeks.

ECB staff have been told to work from home if possible until March, following German regulations, and a council meeting two weeks ago to discuss the next decision was held entirely virtual.

On Thursday, Lagarde is expected to start rolling back the ECB’s massive stimulus package by announcing that the 1.85 trillion euro bond purchase scheme it launched in response to the pandemic will halt net purchases in March.

Many Western central banks, including the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, have said they are ending their bond purchases in response to rising inflation. But the ECB is expected to expand and continue with an older asset purchase program at least until the end of next year.

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