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CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus case among repatriated Europeans reported in Belgium

A plane carrying French nationals repatriated from Wuhan, China, arrived in Europe at Istres Air Base, near Marseille, France, 31 January 2020.
A plane carrying French nationals repatriated from Wuhan, China, arrived in Europe at Istres Air Base, near Marseille, France, 31 January 2020. AFP/Clément Mahoudeau

A Belgian person who was one of hundreds of Europeans repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan via France at the weekend has tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.

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Belgium’s health agency said the person who tested positive was in good health and not showing any symptoms of the virus. It gave no information about the person’s identity.

The person was one of nine repatriated Belgians who had had undergone tests in a military hospital in Brussels. The agency said the eight others had tested negative.

The group was on board a flight of 254 people of 30 mostly European nationalities who had been living in or around Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and who had returned to Europe via France on Sunday.

“All the other countries” had been notified of the case, said Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block.

No coronavirus detected among repatriated French nationals

French health officials said Monday all of its nationals repatriated from China on the Sunday flight and on an earlier flight last Friday tested negative for the coronavirus.

After two repatriation flights, a total of 216 French nationals are being kept in quarantine at Carry-le-Rouet near Marseille in southern France. Another site at nearby Aix-en-Provence is hosting 23 French nationals, 18 from the European Union and 40 non-Europeans.

“All were subject to a test upon their arrival on the territory and today several hundred of these tests are negative,” said Jérôme Salomon, France’s director general for health, on Monday.

“There is no epidemic in France,” Salomon said. “The virus is not circulating on our territory.”

Six cases of the virus have been confirmed in France, all of which are isolated in hospital. No new cases have been reported in the country since last Thursday.

The disease has killed more than 400 people and infected a further 20,000 in China, nearly all of them in Hubei, and spread to two-dozen countries since it emerged in December.

Hong Kong and the Philippines have also reported deaths, and the World Health Organization has declared the crisis a global health emergency.

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