Coronavirus: Five new cases, all of Britons in France

Five new cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in France, all of them British people staying or living in an “isolated” ski chalet in the Haute-Savoie (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes).

9 February 2020
By Connexion journalist

The new cases are four adults and a child, and they bring the total number of confirmed cases in France to 11.

The chalet is located in the town of Contamines-Montjoie, and has two apartments. One previously housed three adult British tourists, all of whom tested positive for the virus.

The other housed a British family, including a father and three children, who live in the commune full-time. The father and one of his children - a nine-year-old boy - tested positive for the virus. The children’s mother was away in the UK at the time.

The boy attends the local Contamines school, and had attended another school in nearby Saint-Gervais for a day-long French language course. Both schools have now been closed until the end of next week as a precaution, with other pupils and their parents warned to be vigilant to any possible virus symptoms.

Tests carried out on about 100 people living in Contamines have all come back negative, officials have reported.

An investigation at the schools is now underway, said Jean-Yves Grall, director of regional health agency l'Agence Régionale de Santé (ARS) Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

The new cases came from one British man, who had been on a business trip in Singapore from January 20-23. He then came to Contamines-Montjoie for a four-day holiday, and arrived on January 24.

The man was later diagnosed with the new coronavirus on his arrival back in the UK.

In total, 11 people - all British - were taken into hospital (including in Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble). Of these, five were confirmed as coronavirus cases.

French health minister Agnès Buzyn said: “Their medical state is showing no severe signs.”

The six others are in quarantine and are being monitored, confirmed Mr Grall.

A new crisis department and information phone number has been put in place by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to reply to questions from people “directly affected by these new cases”.

The number is 0 800 100 379.

Jérôme Salomon, director general of health, said: “[This] is for high-risk people, who have been within one metre, over a prolonged period of time, of the contaminated people. These are really people who have been sharing the same bedroom, the same meal, the same area, or close friends."

Locals can also go to the Contamines Mairie if they have questions. Yesterday (Saturday February 8), authorities were meeting to consider what precautions should be taken among the local population.

Mr Salomon said: “We have launched an international investigation. We have a close relationship with Singapore, who are investigating a professional meeting held in Singapore from January 20-22, during which 94 strangers were together in a hotel.”

The event also included people from the province of Hubei, where the new coronavirus originated.

Mr Salomon said that Malaysia had already reported confirmed cases of the virus among some of its nationals - on February 4 and 5 - who had taken part in the same event in Singapore.

The new cases in France add to the six other people in the country who have been confirmed to have the new virus; all six people are still in hospital but most are recovering well.

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