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Boy, 9, dies in France from rare coronavirus-related disease, say doctors

A nine-year-old boy, with an underlying health condition, has died in France from a Kawasaki-like disease believed to be linked to coronavirus, his doctor said on Friday, the first such death in the country as similar child fatalities are being investigated in New York and London.

Boy, 9, dies in France from rare coronavirus-related disease, say doctors
The boy died at La Timone hospital in Marseille. Photo: AFP

The child died after a “neurological injury related to a cardiac arrest”, said Fabrice Michel, head of the paediatric intensive care unit at La Timone hospital in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille.

France's national health agency Santé Publique France said the boy had an underlying “neuro-developmental” health condition.

The boy, who tested positive for coronavirus, received treatment at the hospital for seven days and died on Saturday, the doctor told AFP.

In the last three weeks, several countries have reported cases of children affected by an inflammatory disease with symptoms similar to those of a rare condition, Kawasaki's disease. Scientists believe it is linked to Covid-19.

A London children's hospital said on Wednesday that a 14-year-old boy with no underlying health conditions had died from the disease and had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that three children in the state had died and more than 100 cases were being investigated.

READ ALSO What do we know about the people in France who died from coronavirus?

There have been 125 reported cases in France between March 1st and May 12th, according to the country's public health agency. The patients' ages ranged from one to 14.

Symptoms include a high fever, rashes, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis and a red or swollen tongue.

Inflammation of blood vessels and cardiac damage are “much more pronounced” in cases suspected of being linked to Covid-19 compared with classic Kawasaki disease, France's public health agency said Thursday.

Michel, the paediatric doctor in Marseille, stressed that the disease is rare. 

These cases concern “very few children, and only a single death, so they should not cause undue worry,” said the professor. 

Children should see a doctor if they have fever for more than two days and associated symptoms, he said.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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