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France preps coronavirus test as Chinese ‘cheat’ found

A new test for the new Chinese coronavirus will soon be available in France, the health minister has said, as the virus spreads in Asia, and a woman who “cheated” checks to arrive in France is identified.

The new test, which can diagnose the respiratory virus in humans within hours, will be available in French hospitals from next week, Agnès Buzyn said.

The minister also reminded people to call the number 15 in case of any doubt, and sought to reassure the public over the possible spread of the virus, which has an incubation period of seven days.

She said: “The 15 centre will send a team, and they will know how to manage it. There are hospitals who know exactly how to quarantine ill people, and how to make inquiries around contact of family and friends.”

Chinese woman in France has ‘no more symptoms’

Hours later, the Chinese embassy in Paris reported that it had tracked down a woman suffering from a fever, who had successfully travelled to France from Wuhan before all flights out were cancelled.

Writing on social network WeChat, the woman said she had managed to pass all health checks in China after taking medication to suppress her fever, and later posted photos of herself dining at what she said was a Michelin-starred restaurant in Lyon (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes).

The Chinese embassy said it had contacted her after receiving many calls and emails from worried locals, and asked the woman to refer herself to medical services. The woman’s fever is now reportedly under control, and she has no more symptoms or need for treatment, the embassy said.


Emergency in China

The World Health Organisation has stopped short of declaring the virus a global emergency, although it has acknowledged the severity of the virus in China.

China has announced that at least 830 people are infected with the virus, and at least 26 people have died, with the numbers continuing to rise.

It has imposed a travel lockdown on Wuhan - the city in which the virus is known to have originated -, as well as at least seven other nearby cities, just ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations. Beijing’s Forbidden City has been closed, and all large new year celebrations have been cancelled.

Many Chinese residents have been wearing masks to try to avoid infection, but authorities have said that washing your hands regularly, using hand sanitizer, and avoiding close contact with others may be more effective as a preventative measure.

The virus has so far been reported in Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States.

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