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29 Feb 2020 | 09:37 PM UTC

France: Government bans large gatherings as COVID-19 cases rise to 100 nationwide February 29 /update 3

Ministry of Health confirms 100 COVID-19 cases across France on February 29, and bans gatherings of over 5000 people; further spread of the virus to be expected over the near term

health
FRA

Event

The Director General of Health, Jérôme Salmon, confirmed on Saturday, February 29, that as of 18:00 (local time) there are 100 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) across France, including two associated deaths. Minister of Health Olivier Veran subsequently announced a ban on gatherings of more than 5000 people effective February 29. Authorities have therefore canceled a half-marathon scheduled in Paris on Sunday, March 1. Public gatherings in Oise, north of Paris, and in La Balme-de-Sillingy, near the Alps, also remain prohibited due to the identification of a clusters in these areas.

On Friday, February 28, 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. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term. 

Context

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 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.

Advice

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.