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Coronavirus reaches Europe as France confirms three cases

The two confirmed cases, the first in Europe, were announced by the health minister Agnes Buzyn.

Image: PA Images

Updated Jan 24th 2020, 10:40 PM

FRANCE HAS ANNOUNCED three cases of coronavirus, the deadly new virus from China.

The three confirmed cases, the first in Europe, were announced by the health minister Agnes Buzyn.

All three people had travelled to China. Two of them belonged to the same family.

In part because of Europe’s open borders, the minister said she expects more cases.

“We see how difficult it is in today’s world to close the frontiers. In reality, it’s not possible,” she said

“We have two cases,” she added. “We will probably have other cases.”

Buzyn said speed in diagnosing new cases will be essential in slowing the spread of the virus.

She said she believes that one reason why France is the first European country to have confirmed cases is that it has developed a test allowing medics to rapidly diagnose the sickened.

“You have to treat an epidemic as you would a fire, that’s to say find the source very quickly,” she said.

One of the people, a 48-year-old man, passed through Wuhan, the epicentre in China for the virus, before travelling to France on Wednesday, the minister said.

That person is in hospital in the south-western city of Bordeaux.

The other person is in hospital in Paris.

The minister said that that person also travelled to China but that she has little other information about the case.

The Bordeaux patient was in contact with about 10 people before he was taken into care, the minister said. French authorities are seeking to contact them.

People in the UK, meanwhile, face ongoing tests for coronavirus as the Chief Medical Officer for England said there is a “fair chance” Britain will see cases emerge.

Fourteen people were given the all-clear yesterday but others are undergoing tests formulated by Public Health England (PHE), Professor Chris Whitty said.

It comes as the Department of Health confirmed that officials are trying to trace 2,000 people who have flown to the UK from Wuhan, China in the past few weeks, in order to check on their wellbeing.

The number of confirmed cases around the world has climbed sharply to more than 850, the bulk of them in China. There have been at least 25 deaths, all of them in China.

The vast majority of cases have been in and around Wuhan or involved people who visited the city or had personal connections to those infected.

Fewer than two dozen cases in all have been confirmed outside mainland China, in Hong Kong, Macao, the US, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The US reported its second case, involving a Chicago woman in her 60s who was taken to hospital after returning from China. She was reported to be doing well.

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