Five Britons test positive for coronavirus in French Alps

The French Alpine resort of Les Contamines-Montjoie where five British nationals including a child have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 09 February 2020

Five Britons test positive for coronavirus in French Alps

  • The new 'cluster' is centered on a Briton who had returned from Singapore and stayed in Contamines-Montjoie
  • France has now detected a total of 11 cases of the novel coronavirus

PARIS: Five British nationals including a child have tested positive for the new coronavirus in France, the health minister said Saturday, adding that they had all stayed at the same ski chalet.
France has now detected a total of 11 cases of the novel coronavirus. The new “cluster” is centered on a Briton who had returned from Singapore and stayed in Contamines-Montjoie, near Mont Blanc in the French Alps, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said.
“They show no serious signs” of a life-threatening infection added Buzyn, herself a doctor.
The Briton at the center of the new cases is now in Britain and was not counted among the French tally, she told a press conference.
In addition to the five Britons who have tested positive for the virus, six other Britons staying in the same chalet in late January have also been hospitalized for observation, the minister said.
Authorities in France and Singapore are now trying to contact people who came into close contact with the initially infected Briton, she 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.
Other “clusters” have been identified in Malaysia and South Korea around people who attended the same event, he said.
“The new British cases in the French ski resort included a child, showing that this virus is not limited to older, more vulnerable people and one infected person can cause a cluster of cases,” said William Keevil, professor of Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton.
“Singapore is a major transport hub in southeast Asia, so going forward, we may well find further international cases that have traveled through Singapore,” added Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the same university.
“The French ski resort will have citizens from numerous other countries there, so there are implications for potential onward transmission. Most of the six previous cases in France appear to have been treated successfully, though all are still in hospital,” he said.
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.
Separately the French government ministry issued a warning against any travel to China unless there was an “imperative” reason to go.


Afghanistan confirms first case of coronavirus along border with Iran

Updated 14 min 6 sec ago

Afghanistan confirms first case of coronavirus along border with Iran

  • The infected individual has been placed under quarantine and is being treated by doctors at a health facility in Herat
  • Under the state of emergency, Herat’s residents are required to restrict their movement outside their homes

KABUL: Afghanistan’s government on Monday ordered a state of emergency in Herat province, which borders Iran, after one of its residents tested positive for coronavirus — the first case to be reported in the country.

Three elderly Afghan men were hospitalized on Sunday after displaying symptoms following their return from Iran five days ago.

“Their blood samples were sent for further testing in Kabul on Sunday, and one of them has been affected by coronavirus,” Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz said on Monday.

He added that the infected individual has been placed under quarantine and is being treated by doctors at a health facility in Herat. The province, with a population of nearly 1 million, lies nearly 950 km from Kabul.

Under the state of emergency, Herat’s residents are required to restrict their movement outside their homes, stop traveling to other parts of the country and refrain from having visitors, Waheed Mayar, a spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, told Arab News on Monday.

Abdul Hakim Taman, head of Herat’s public health department, told Arab News: “We’re worried about the situation and the spread of coronavirus.”

Fearing the spread of the disease, the Afghan government on Sunday ordered the closure of the border with Iran.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been living for decades as war refugees in Iran, and routinely visit the country for business or to visit family members.

Some of them use illegal routes to travel to Iran and back, making it difficult for authorities to detect cases of the virus. Iran is Afghanistan’s main trade partner.