A patient infected with the coronavirus was admitted to the Bordeaux University Hospital on January 24, 2020. - AFP
- In the past month, the coronavirus that appeared in China has left 41 dead and contaminated more than 1,000 people, according to the latest report delivered by the Chinese authorities.
- In China, several cities including Wuhan are the subject of a gigantic sanitary cordon which concerns 56 million people, to prevent the virus from spreading.
- In France, three cases have been confirmed, the first in Europe.
Avoid a pandemic. After the confirmation of three cases positive for the Chinese coronavirus in France, the first in Europe, the health authorities must take the speed virus to prevent an epidemic from spreading, as one "circumscribes a fire". This Saturday, 20 Minutes takes stock of the situation.
What do we know about these three cases?
These are two patients hospitalized in Paris, at Bichat hospital, and one in Bordeaux, at CHU Pellegrin. They are subject to isolation measures to avoid contagion, and "are doing very well," said Director General of Health Jerome Salomon on Saturday evening. "We are completely reassured about their development," he said.
The one who is hospitalized in Bordeaux is 48 years old. He returned on January 22 to France after "a few days" in China where he "passed through Wuhan", the city where the epidemic started, said Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn on Friday evening. This French of Chinese origin works "in the middle of the wine" and "was led to go back and forth with China," said Saturday the mayor of Bordeaux, Nicolas Florian.
Patients hospitalized in Paris are a 31-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman, according to Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of the infectious diseases department at Bichat. This “Wuhan” couple had arrived in France on January 18 for a trip.
How to prevent the virus from spreading?
"You have to treat an epidemic as you treat a fire," that is to say, "circumscribe it as quickly as possible," explained Agnès Buzyn. For this, the health authorities are carrying out an epidemiological investigation to identify the people who were in contact with the three patients from the moment when they presented symptoms (on the assumption that they were not contagious previously).
"We list the different types of contact they may have had and we conduct a risk analysis," explains Daniel Lévy-Bruhl, from the public health agency France. The risk criteria are "either very close contact (face-to-face contact within one meter, intimate contact situations, living in the same household, etc.), or less close but prolonged contact" , he adds.
For people considered to be at risk, monitoring is then established: they must take their temperature twice a day and call the local health authorities daily. When the risk is considered high, these people are advised to stay at home to limit possible transmission of the virus. Purpose of these measures, according to Dr. Lévy-Bruhl: "Detect as early as possible the occurrence of signs that could indicate an infection".
Will the flu cloud the trail?
One of the difficulties that the health authorities are likely to encounter comes from "the coexistence with a flu epidemic in full peak in Europe as in China", explained the number 2 of the ministry, the general director of Health Jérôme Salomon, before even confirmation of the three positive cases.
The flu symptoms are close to those caused by the coronavirus, "which hinders the possibilities of detection," according to Professor Salomon.
What to do if you think you are infected?
The health authorities hammer him: if you think you are infected with the coronavirus, you should not go to your doctor or to the emergency room, to avoid any potential contamination, but stay at home and call 15 (Samu) "while reporting symptoms and recent stay in China. " Beyond the risks of contamination, an influx into panic emergency patients would be complicated to manage in an already overcrowded sector in the midst of social conflict.
We must "stop collective hysteria," said Patrick Pelloux, president of the association of emergency doctors of France (Amuf). "We have people who call us because they have passed someone from Asia on the street who is blowing their nose," he said. Once treated after calling 15, patients likely to have been infected by the coronavirus are referred to so-called "reference" hospitals.
It is then the National Reference Center of the Institut Pasteur in Paris which checks whether the patient is positive or negative, thanks to a test developed after the sequencing of the virus by the Chinese. This test will soon be available in the provinces to speed up the diagnosis. There is no drug for coronavirus, and management is to treat the symptoms.
What measures for passengers coming from China?
"A medical reception team" of "several dozen people" will be set up Sunday at Roissy airport, announced Saturday evening the Directorate General of Health. Unlike other countries, France has not implemented border control measures for passengers coming from China, with their temperature controlled by thermal camera.
"The World Health Organization has not wanted to declare a public health emergency of international concern, so there is no specific recommendation today for travelers," said the Minister of Health Friday after the Council of Ministers.
Our file on the coronavirus
In addition, many experts point out that border control is not a foolproof measure, as infected patients who are not yet showing symptoms may fall through the cracks.
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