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Mystery virus syndrome also found in children in France, minister reveals

France has more than a dozen cases of children with inflammation around the heart, the health minister said Wednesday, after Britain sounded an alarm about a new disease with possible links to novel coronavirus.

Mystery virus syndrome also found in children in France, minister reveals
AFP

Olivier Veran said there was not enough evidence to confirm a link with the coronavirus sweeping the globe but France was taking the cases “very seriously”.

Britain's state-run National Health Service issued the alert at the weekend about a small number of children presenting an unusual set of symptoms, including abdominal pain and inflammation that required admission to intensive care.

In London, health minister Matt Hancock on Tuesday spoke of “early signs that in rare cases, there is an impact of an auto-immune response in children that causes a significant disease.

“It's a new disease that we think may be caused by coronavirus and the COVID-19 virus.”

But he said that while some of the children who have it tested positive for the virus, others did not.

Cases have also been reported in Italy, Spain and Switzerland, Veran told Franceinfo news radio, adding he had received an alert from Paris concerning “about 15 children of all ages”.

The French minister listed the symptoms as fever, digestive problems and vascular inflammation which can lead to cardiac deficiency.

“To my knowledge, fortunately no child has died from these complications which are fairly rare illnesses that can come with inflammation of the heart,” Veran said.

Some of the cases “in France as in England, but not all, have turned out to carry the coronavirus”, causing “some concern and watchfulness”.

“I am taking this very seriously. We have absolutely no medical explanation at this stage.

“Is it an inflammatory reaction which sets off a pre-existing condition in children who have this virus or is it another infectious disease? There are a lot of questions.

The minister urged international and French experts to gather as much data as possible to establish if a link can be made between the coronavirus and the new symptoms, “which until now had not been seen anywhere”.

France intends to re-open primary schools from May 11 and the minister noted that children had largely escaped COVID-19 infection and that serious cases involved those with underlying conditions.

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COVID-19

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).

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