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LATEST: Three coronavirus cases now confirmed in France

Three cases of the coronavirus have been "confirmed" in France, the first in Europe, officials said on Friday

LATEST: Three coronavirus cases now confirmed in France
Photo: AFP

The first case involved a patient in hospital in the southwestern city of Bordeaux while the other was in Paris, the minister told reporters.

A third person – also in Paris – who is a close relative of one of the other two, has also been confirmed to have the virus, the health ministry said later.
   
All three had recently travelled to China and had now been placed in isolation.
 
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The cases mark the first confirmed cases of the virus in Europe, after the outbreak began in China.

“We are in the process of tracing the history of these patients who have tested positive in order to get in touch with the people they have been in contact with,” Buzyn said earlier.
   
“We have today the first European cases probably because we developed the test very quickly and we are capable of identifying them.
   
The first patient, 48, who returned to France on January 22 after having “passed through Wuhan”, the Chinese city at the centre of the deadly outbreak, was described as “well”.
   
“We know that since the patient has been on French soil they have had contact with a dozen people, we are going to contact them.”
   
She said she had only just received information on the second case and was not yet in a position to make it public.
   
“You have to treat an epidemic as you treat a fire, quickly to locate the source” and “contain it as quickly as possible,” Buzyn added.
   
The previously unknown virus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
   
The outbreak emerged in late December in Wuhan, an industrial and transport hub of 11 million people in China's centre, spreading to several other countries including the United States.
   
To date the death toll stands at 26.

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HEALTH

Sick patients in France lacking GP to be contacted before summer, minister says

The French minister of health promised that chronically ill patients who aren't registered with a doctor will be contacted by the summer.

Sick patients in France lacking GP to be contacted before summer, minister says

François Braun, France’s Health Minister, said on Monday that all chronically ill patients without a general practitioner will be contacted before the month of June with “concrete solutions”.

There is a general shortage of medécins généraliste (GPs or family doctors) in France, with some areas classed as ‘medical deserts’ where people find it almost impossible to register with a doctor.

The health minister said that people without access to primary care doctors are “deprived of a regular follow-up” and that this is “no longer acceptable” for those with chronic illnesses. These groups will be contacted via Assurance Maladie before the summer, he added. 

Braun’s statements came a few weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to healthcare workers outlining the ways he is seeking to overhaul the health system in the country.

READ MORE: How Macron intends to revive France’s ailing health system in 6 months

In his speech, the president promised that the “600,000 patients in France who suffer from a chronic disease would be offered a primary care doctor – or at least a ‘reference team’ – by the end of the year.”

Macron also discussed plans establish a “Conseil national de la refondation (CNR – or National Council for Reconstruction)” to build a “roadmap” for solutions in the fight against medical deserts.

Approximately six million French people are estimated to lack a primary care doctor, and 600,000 of those people suffer from long-term diseases, according to Franceinfo.

READ MORE: What to do if you live in one of France’s ‘medical deserts’

This issue is aggravated by the fact that almost a third of French people live in medical deserts – or geographical zones where healthcare providers and general practitioners are severely lacking compared to the rest of the country. Generally, this refers to healthcare in the community such as GPs or family doctors, dentists or community nurses, rather than hospitals.

Medical desertification mainly affects rural areas with an ageing population – though they’re also developing in some towns and cities (including some Paris suburbs) as retiring doctors are not replaced and younger medics establish themselves in more dynamic zones, both in terms of economy and activities. 

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