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09 Mar 2020 | 03:19 AM UTC

France: Authorities ban public gatherings of more than 1000 due to COVID-19 March 8 /update 5

Government announces ban on public gatherings of more than 1000 people to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 8; anticipate associated disruptions



French Health Minister Olivier Véran announced on Sunday, March 8, that the government has implement a ban on public gatherings of more than 1000 people due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak effective immediately. Authorities clarified that the ban will not include gatherings in public transport or demonstrations, but did not specify when the ban would cease. Minister Véran previously announced a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 5000 on Thursday, March 5, until Wednesday, 15 April. The latest measures is in addition to a 14-day closure of schools mainly in the COVID-19-affected regions of Brittany and Oise in place since Tuesday, March 3.

Authorities have confirmed at least 1126 cases of the virus nationwide, with 19 fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in 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 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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 risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.

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.