Coronavirus: More suspected cases in France

Chinese New Year celebrations in Paris and Bordeaux cancelled amid concern over virus

27 January 2020
By James Harrington

Health minister Agnès Buzyn expects more cases of the deadly coronavirus to be confirmed in France, after revealing that a further 15 suspected instances of the virus are being investigated.

Three cases were confirmed on Friday - two in Paris and one in Bordeaux. All three are being treated in isolation in hospital. Ms Buzyn said on Sunday another five patients suspected of having the illness are also being treated in isolation, and 10 more suspected cases were under investigation.

Symptoms include cough, headache, fatigue, fever, aching and difficulty breathing.

As is routine at this time of year, health authorities advise good hand hygiene - washing your hands and using sanitiser gel regularly, using disposable tissues and throwing them away and covering your mouth when you cough. Masks offer little protection, Ms Buzyn said.

Meanwhile, Paris and Bordeaux have cancelled street parades organised to mark Chinese New Year.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo announced on Europe 1 radio that the parade through the Republique district had been cancelled.

"Yesterday, I met members of the Chinese community in Paris who themselves wished to cancel the procession," the mayor said on Sunday.

The confirmed cases in France so far were in patients who have recently travelled from China. They were the first cases confirmed in Europe and were identified using a test developed in France.

A medical team of several dozen experts is at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport to take charge of any arrivals with possible symptoms of infection with the contagious virus, but passengers arriving in French airports from China would not be screened using temperature tests. Ms Buzyn said: "Taking the temperature is a symbol. It reassures the wider population, but it offers false security.

"The World Health Organisation does not recommend this technique. The most appropriate way is to give information to passengers, which we do, on paper, in three languages."

Since the illness broke out at a fish market in Wuhan in December, several thousand have been infected and 80 people have died. Chinese authorities say the majority of the people who died were elderly or people with other underlying medical conditions.

Seasonal flu caused 9,500 deaths in France last year.

Anyone who thinks they may be infected should not go to hospital or their doctor's surgery, but should call the ambulance service - on the number 15 - and tell the operator it is a suspected case of coronavirus.

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