Health

France confirms first coronavirus cases in Europe

French health authorities on Saturday confirmed three cases of the new coronavirus, marking the infections arrival in Europe.

Two people, in Paris and Bordeaux, have been infected with the virus, French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said Friday. A close relative of one of the first two patients has also been infected, authorities confirmed Saturday. All three had recently traveled to China, where the outbreak started.

Authorities are contacting those who have been in close contact with the patients and instructing them to avoid contact with others to stop the deadly pneumonia-like virus from spreading, the French health ministry said.

These cases are “not unexpected” given the virus rapid spread, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in a statement today, adding that “at this stage, it is likely that there will be more imported cases in Europe.”

EU countries must make sure to apply “rigorous” measures to prevent and control the infection and “keep the likelihood of further sustained spread in both healthcare and community settings low,” the agency also said.

Several countries, including Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Australia and the U.S., have already signaled confirmed cases of infection. In the United Kingdom, 14 people who exhibited symptoms of the virus tested negative. A suspected case in Belgium also turned out to be a false alarm after tests came back negative, local media

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