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France: SARS-related virus cases suspected

10 May 2013, 16:49

Paris — French health officials said on Friday they are investigating three suspected cases of a deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS, while a man confirmed to have the virus remains hospitalised.

Beatrice Degrugillers, a spokesperson for the regional health agency in France's Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, said a nurse at the hospital where the first patient was hospitalised in late April has herself been under watch at the hospital in Douai since Thursday night.

A doctor and a former hospital roommate who had each been in contact with the first patient also remain hospitalized. Test results are expected later on Friday.

On Wednesday authorities announced a 65-year-old Frenchman was France's first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, which has killed 18 people and raised new public health concerns since being identified last year in the Middle East.

The patient fell ill after returning from a nine-day vacation in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as part of a package tour, the Health Ministry said.

The man, whose identity was not released, returned from Dubai on 17 April. He was hospitalised with respiratory problems in the northern French city of Valenciennes on 23 April, and transferred to a more advanced facility in Douai on 29 April, Grall told a news conference on Wednesday.

Monitoring measures

Paris' Pasteur Institute analysed the man's virus and confirmed on Tuesday that it is a novel coronavirus.

Since September 2012, the World Health Organisation has been informed of 30 confirmed cases of the virus, and 18 of the patients have died. Cases have emerged in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, Britain and Germany, and health officials say the virus has likely already spread from person to person in some circumstances.

Since the virus emerged last year, European authorities have put in place monitoring measures. In France, 20 people have already been examined for suspected cases of the virus, but the other 19 turned up negative, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said.

The patient who travelled to Dubai is the only positive case. His family members have been tested and are not infected, the Health Ministry said, and the other travellers in his tour group and health care workers who had contact with him are also being tested.

- AP


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