Five British nationals confirmed as new coronavirus cases in France

Five British nationals confirmed as new coronavirus cases in France
Photo: AFP
France’s Health Minister announced on Saturday that five new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed on French soil, thought to have been brought in by a British national who spent time in Singapore in January.

French minister of health Agnès Buzyn held a press conference on Saturday morning in which she confirmed five new cases of the coronavirus in France, four adults and a child.

Describing it as a “cluster” and “a grouping of several cases around one initial case”, Buzyn said the five patients had been hospitalized on Friday night at university hospitals in Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble.

“The initial case was brought to our attention last night (Friday February 7),” France’s health minister told journalists.

“He is a British national who returned from Singapore where he had stayed from January 20 to 23.

“He arrived in France on January 24 for a four-day stay and he stayed in the commune of Contamines-Montjoie (Haute-Savoie).

All of the people confirmed infected by the coronavirus and the other contacts of the British national -“11 people in total” – are British nationals and lived in the same chalet, Buzyn added.

According to France's health minister, the clinical condition of all five confirmed coronavirus patients “isn't serious” enough to be life threatening.

The six other Britons staying in the same chalet in late January have also been hospitalised for observation.

Authorities in France and Singapore are now trying to contact people who came into close contact with the infected British national, Buzyn said.

He was on a business trip and had stayed at a hotel for an event with 94 other foreigners, according to senior health official Jerome Salomon who attended the press briefing along with Buzyn.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes health authorities have announced that anyone concerned by this latest outbreak of the coronavirus in their region can call 0800 100 379 to seek advice and help, especially those who suspect they may have been exposed. 

Most of the six previous cases in France appear to have been treated successfully, although all the patients are still in hospital.

One man, an 80-year-old Chinese national, is nonetheless “still in critical condition” in a Paris hospital, Salomon said.

The novel coronavirus which erupted in Wuhan, central China, in December has already infected more than 34,500 people and killed more than 700, according to the latest official figures from China.

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