Five Brits, including child, 9, ‘catch coronavirus from UK guest at same resort’

Five British nationals including a nine-year-old child were infected with coronavirus by an Englishman staying in the same Alpine ski resort, French health officials fear.

The middle-aged carrier, who is from Brighton, had travelled from Singapore at the end of last month to Contamines-Montjoie, in eastern France.

Those involved – who have yet to be named – were on Saturday all in quarantine, along with five other British nationals who came in to contact with the Englishman.

The contaminated child is a nine-year-old boy who lives in Contamines-Montjoie with her parents and two siblings. 

Jean-Yves Grall, the head of the regional health authority, said the child’s mother ‘was in Britain taking exams’ at the time of the contamination. 


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Mr Grall said the infected child had attended school in Contamines-Montjoie and also spent a day at a second school in the nearby town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.

Etienne Jacquet, the mayor of Contamines-Montjoie, said: "I was called by the regional health agency at 12.30am on Saturday about two British families. Seven were in one chalet and four in another. Of the 11 people, five have tested positive for the coronavirus."

The man who is believed to have infected the five Brits did not display symptoms of his illness until he returned to Brighton from his holiday in France.

The man is being treated as the third coronavirus victim on British soil, while the eleven other British nations – including the five infected ones – are in French hospitals in Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble.


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"They were all staying in a chalet in Contamines-Montjoie when some complained of feeling unwell," said a health ministry source in Paris of the five new patients.

"The 11 are now in isolation in three hospitals in the Haute Savoie region, with care and tests ongoing. Five have the coronavirus, including a child."

Jean-Marc Peillex, the Mayor of Contamines-Montjoie, revealed that three of the children in quarantine – including the confirmed case – attend the same school, which will remain shut next week, along with a second school.

Mr Peillex said: "One of the contaminated children was in contract with two schools, one in Contamines-Montjoie, where he is resident, and at primary school, and another school in Saint-Gervais.

"These two schools have been closed as a precaution, and the closure will last one week," the Mayor added.


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The UK patient who arrived in France from Singapore on January 24 had been attending a business conference at a £1,000-a-night hotel in the Asian country.

The gathering at the luxury-laced Grand Hyatt comprised more than 100 people and has been linked to the spread of coronavirus in at least three other states.

On his return to Britain, the man suffered flu-like symptoms and took himself to the Accident & Emergency ward at the Royal Sussex in Brighton on Sunday, February 1.

The victim was then rushed to a specialist infectious diseases unit at Guy's Hospital in London on Friday, where he will remain in isolation for at least two weeks.

Coronavirus has a 14-day incubation period where a patient may not display symptoms but can still infect others by coughs and sneezes.

Since it spawned in Wuhan, China, late last year, the virus has infected 34,914 worldwide and has killed 724 people.


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Contamines-Montjoie, a village ski resort attached to a nature reserve, is connected to Evasion Mont-Blanc.

Two apartments in a ski chalet are being examined, while a crisis centre has been set up at the town hall in Contamines-Montjoie.

Marie-Charlotte Pasquier, the village’s director of services, said: "Information is being handed out advising people how to avoid transmission. Local doctors have also received new supplies of medicines and masks to help deal with the situation."

Agnès Buzyn, France’s health minister, said the unnamed patients in France were in a 'stable condition' and they were being monitored constantly.

"Their clinical condition shows no sign of seriousness," said the minister, who added that the French authorities were trying to contact family of the British nationals.

Ms Buzyn said the group of newly-infected people with the virus formed 'a cluster, a grouping around one original case'.


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She said: "That original case was brought to our attention last night. He 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."

Singapore's use as a transport hub in south-east Asia means it could be a contaminating zone for the virus.

On Sunday, 40 French people are to be repatriated from China, where more than 700 people have been killed by the virus, and 34,000 cases have been detected.

The first cases of coronavirus arrived in France at the end of January, among ill people recently arrived from China.

Public health officials around the world are trying to contain the new virus that first appeared in the seafood market at Wuhan, China, at the start of December.

Coronaviruses are common in animals of all kinds, and sometimes can evolve into forms that can infect humans.

Since the start of the century, two other coronaviruses have jumped to humans, causing the SARS outbreak in 2002 and the MERS outbreak in 2012.

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