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France announces first case of a hospital doctor dying from coronavirus

Staff at the intensive care unit at Bichat Hospital in Paris on March 13, 2020.
Staff at the intensive care unit at Bichat Hospital in Paris on March 13, 2020. © Anne Chaoen, AFP

A hospital doctor died after being infected with the new coronavirus, France's Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Sunday. He added that "to his knowledge", it was the first death of this type in France.

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"I was informed yesterday evening of the death of a hospital doctor, it is to my knowledge (...) the first situation that has struck a hospital doctor," Véran said on Le Grand Jury, a political programme on RTL radio and LCI TV news station, in partnership with Le Figaro.

The doctor died after being transferred to Lille, according to AFP. 

Véran declined to give "more precise information", to respect the family's wishes and also medical confidentiality.

However, according to a Facebook post by one of his children, reported by public television, the victim was an emergency doctor from Compiègne, in the Oise, one of the first departments in the country to be badly affected by the virus.

Mon père ce héro, médecin aux urgences de Compiègne est parti trop vite à cause du coronavirus...

Publiée par HR Razaf sur Samedi 21 mars 2020

Véran said the death "emphasised the extraordinary courage shown by all the doctors, nurses, firefighters and other people who help save lives every day".

"There is a very heavy price paid by the great family of doctors in our country today." he added.

Asked about the impact of the shortage of masks for health workers, the minister said that "what we know is that most of the caregivers who might contract the disease won't contract it as part of their hospital work, but outside it."

"Protective equipment is absolutely essential for caregivers, but with or without protective equipment you can be sick in your professional practice, you can be sick even when you are a caregiver," he said.

The virus has so far killed 562 people in France and infected 14,485 with a further 6,172 in hospital, of whom a quarter are in serious condition in intensive care.

(FRANCE 24)

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