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France fears more cases of Sars-like virus

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The hospital in Douai where the first case of a deadly coronavirus is being treated. AFP / Denis Charlet

French health officials say they fear the country’s first case of a deadly Sars-like virus may have infected two other people, including the victim’s doctor.


A 65-year-old man who returned to France from a holiday in Dubai was diagnosed with the deadly novel coronavirus, and is in intensive care in a hospital in the northern city of Douai, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry stressed that “this is the first and only confirmed case in France today”. But on Thursday, health authorities in the Nord/Pas-de-Calais region said two more people were undergoing tests after showing symptoms of the virus.

They were a man who had shared a room in hospital with the patient, and a doctor who treated him.

The unnamed patient, who was in Dubai from April 9 to 17, has been placed in isolation and is being given respiratory assistance and blood transfusions.

In the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a member, the health ministry said on Friday that no case of the Sars-like virus had been recorded in the Gulf state.

The UAE was "coordinating" with France on the case and "closely following the health situation" although it was "not a concern" in the emirate itself, the ministry said in a statement published by local media.

The latest outbreak of Coronavirus was first detected in September 2012, and since then
more than 30 cases have been reported in different countries, with 18 deaths.

While it has been deadliest in Saudi Arabia, where 11 people have been killed by the virus, other cases have been reported in Jordan, Germany, Britain and now France.

But the French health ministry says it does not appear to be very contagious.

The World Health Organisation on Thursday reported two new confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia.