France ‘low coronavirus risk’ as French suspect clear

Coronavirus has infected more than 440 people in China so far, with nine dead, but France has said it is "low risk"

A French person previously suspected of having new Chinese virus coronavirus has been confirmed clear, as France says it is “at low risk”, and declines to put border checks in place.

The news comes after a French citizen had been reported to have suffered respiratory problems and other virus symptoms after returning to France from a trip to Wuhan, the Chinese city in which coronavirus appears to have originated.

The symptoms had previously been suspected to be coronavirus.

Yet, French director general of health, Jérôme Salomon, confirmed that the patient had received tests for viral infection at the Institut Pasteur health clinic, and all had come back negative.

Mr Salomon told French public service media FranceInfo: “He is doing well, and has returned home.”

He added that in case of any doubt, the public was recommended to “stay at home”, and take “barrier measures” to avoid the spread of viruses, including washing hands, and avoiding excess contact with others.

France has so far declined to put any systematic testing measures in place at its borders, and is not testing travellers arriving in the country from China. In contrast, countries including Russia and Thailand have begun testing the temperature of all travellers arriving from China, in a bid to halt the infection.

Mr Solomon said: “This measure is not recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is complex to put in place, and not very effective. Anyway, passengers leaving Wuhan are already being tested.”

The news comes after French health minister Agnes Buzyn said that “the risk of [the virus] spreading to France is low, but cannot be ruled out”.

She said: “Our health system is well-prepared; the health establishments have been informed, and our management recommendations have been delivered.”

Yet, Ms Buzyn said that precautionary measures are being taken on direct flights from Wuhan, and posters with advice on how to avoid spreading the virus have been distributed in international airports across the country.

China has so far confirmed that more than 440 people have been infected with the virus since it appeared in Wuhan at the end of December. Nine people have died in China so far

This week, Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese scientist working at the country’s national health commission, said that the virus had been “confirmed” as spreading between humans; the first time this had been confirmed officially.

The virus has also been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Macau.

The WHO is set to meet today (Wednesday January 22) in Geneva to "ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern".

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