Minister of Health Olivier Veran announced on Friday, February 28, that there are 57 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) across France. He also said that some schools across the country will consequently remain closed following school holidays from Monday, March 2, through Wednesday, March 4, to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Children having recently traveled to "zones at risk", or areas with a significant COVID-19 outbreak, are advised not to go to school. Further education or business disruptions are possible in the near term.
On Friday, Minister Veran announced that the government has increased its epidemic response to Level 2, to reflect that the virus is actively circulating across the country and that efforts must now be targeted towards halting its spread. A number of infection clusters have been identified throughout France. Defense Minister Florency Parly said that several cases were reported in a military base in Creil, north of Paris. As of Friday, the source of infection of 12 COVID-19 cases has not yet been identified.
Senior government officials, including President Emmanuel Macron, are expected to meet on Saturday, February 29, to discuss the situation. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "'very high' at global level."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.