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Coronavirus

'Keep away from school', France tells kids returning from Italy

French schoolchildren have also been told to cancel any impending trips to Italy.
French schoolchildren have also been told to cancel any impending trips to Italy. ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

French children returning from Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto regions have been told to stay away from schools and creches for 14 days – as Rome puts 11 towns on lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

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In an unprecedented move, French education administrators sent letters to kindergartens, primary and high schools asking that parents follow strict rules during the 14-day stay-away period.

The advice includes: taking children’s temperature twice daily, looking out for signs of respiratory infection, wearing a surgical mask when outside, regularly washing their hands, avoiding contact with frail people or hospitals and avoiding unnecessary trips to the cinema or restaurants.

The new measures, which also apply to people returning from China, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore and South Korea, come at the end of a two-week school holiday period during which many families may have travelled abroad.

In the event virus symptoms do appear, the school administrators are warned people not to travel to the doctor or the emergency room, but instead to contact the paramedics. In case of doubt, a seven-day toll-free number has been set up with operators on hand to answer questions about the coronavirus: 0 800 130 000.

France’s Education Ministry has also asked school to postpone any trips to northern Italy, taking into account the local restrictions.

The most affected country in Europe, Italy has taken drastic measures to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which has already killed 7 people on its territory.

French anti-virus measures

Meanwhile, new French Health Minister Olivier Veran said the number of laboratories in France equipped with diagnostic tests would be increased to reach a capacity of “several thousand” tests a day, up from 400.

The number of hospitals able to receive and treat coronavirus patients has gone from 38 to 108, with at least one located in each mainland department of France.

French newspapers show the atmosphere of fear that is beginning to overwhelm France with the coronavirus epidemic in northern Italy.
French newspapers show the atmosphere of fear that is beginning to overwhelm France with the coronavirus epidemic in northern Italy. Fotomontagem RFI

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