Five Britons contract coronavirus in French ski resort

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PARIS (Reuters) – Five British nationals including a child have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in France, after staying in the same ski chalet with a person who had been in Singapore, French health officials said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: French Health and Solidarity Minister Agnes Buzyn delivers a speech during a news conference after attending a weekly cabinet meeting and an official presentation of the pension overhaul reform before submitting it to the Parliament, at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, France January 24, 2020. Alain Jocard/Pool via REUTERS

The new cases emerged after authorities began to retrace the recent travels of one British citizen confirmed by Britain to have contracted the virus in recent days, senior health official Jerome Salomon told a news conference.

Agnes Buzyn, France’s health minister, added that the group of people newly infected with the virus were not in a serious condition.

They had formed “a cluster, a grouping around one original case”, she said, after staying in the same chalet, in the Contamines-Montjoie resort in Savoie in eastern France. Contamines is in the French Alps, close to the Swiss city of Geneva.

“That original case was brought to our attention last night, it is a British national who had returned from Singapore where he had stayed between January 20 and 23, and he arrived in France on January 24 for four days,” Buzyn said.

Two of the apartments in the ski chalet were being examined, health officials said, adding that no other people had been affected by the outbreak in the resort.

The infected Britons had been hospitalised overnight in the region, in the cities of Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne, the ministry added.

The total number of people infected with the virus in France has now reached 11.

The six others include one man in a serious condition, while the others have shown signs of improvement in recent days, according to medical officials.

The French government had been in touch with Singapore and Britain, and Singaporean authorities were looking into a business congress that took place in a hotel there on Jan. 20-23 and was attended by 94 foreigners, they said.

The British man now known to be at the origin of the latest French outbreak had travelled to that meeting, according to health officials in Singapore.

The epidemic began in Wuhan in China and the vast majority of cases have been in China.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier and Sarah White, Additional reporting by Alistair Smout in London; Editing by David Evans and Frances Kerry

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