French health authorities on Saturday confirmed three cases of the new coronavirus, marking the infection’s arrival in Europe.
Two people, in Paris and Bordeaux, have been infected with the virus, French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said Friday. A close relative of one of the first two patients has also been infected, authorities confirmed Saturday. All three had recently traveled to China, where the outbreak started.
Authorities are contacting those who have been in close contact with the patients and instructing them to avoid contact with others to stop the deadly pneumonia-like virus from spreading, the French health ministry said.
These cases are “not unexpected” given the virus’ rapid spread, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in a statement today, adding that “at this stage, it is likely that there will be more imported cases in Europe.”
EU countries must make sure to apply “rigorous” measures to prevent and control the infection and “keep the likelihood of further sustained spread in both healthcare and community settings low,” the agency also said.
Several countries, including Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Australia and the U.S., have already signaled confirmed infections. In the United Kingdom, 14 people who exhibited symptoms of the virus tested negative.
The death toll of the infection in China has risen to 41, with over 1,000 confirmed cases, Chinese authorities said Saturday.