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France confirms 2 cases of virus from China, 1st in Europe

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Via CNBC

A staff member checks the temperature of a guest entering the casino of the New Orient Landmark hotel in Macau on January 22, 2020, after the former Portuguese colony reported its first case of the new SARS-like virus that originated from Wuhan in China.

Anthony Wallace | Getty Images

France on Friday announced two cases of the deadly new virus from China, the first cases in Europe.

The two confirmed cases were announced by the health minister, Agnes Buzyn. She said that both of the sickened people had traveled to China.

The minister said she expects more cases. “We have two cases,” she said. “We will probably have other cases.”

The minister said she believes that one reason why France is the first European country to have confirmed cases is that it has developed a test allowing medics to rapidly diagnose the sickened.

One of people sickened, a 48-year-old man, passed through Wuhan, the epicenter in China for the virus, before traveling to France on Wednesday, the minister said. That person is hospitalized in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.

The other person is hospitalized in Paris. The minister said that that person also traveled to China but that she has little other information about the case. It was confirmed shortly before she spoke at a news conference.

The flu-like coronavirus, first identified on Dec. 31, has killed at least 26 people in China and infected more than 900 worldwide.

U.S. health officials said Friday they diagnosed a second patient with the China coronavirus — a Chicago woman who returned from Wuhan with the infection, and they are monitoring dozens of other potential cases here.

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On Thursday, the World Health Organization declined to formally designate the new virus as a global health emergency, after postponing its decision the day before. Health officials are trying to contain the fast-spreading illness without unnecessarily spooking global trade. WHO physicians said they needed more data before declaring a global emergency, but the virus is now spreading through close human contact and in health-care settings, they said.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually infect animals but can sometimes evolve and spread to humans. Symptoms in humans include fever, coughing and shortness of breath, which can progress to pneumonia.

CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace contributed to this report.


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