On Wednesday, French health authorities confirmed a 65-year-old local has contracted the deadly new SARS-like novel coronavirus, the country's first infected case.
The Frenchman, whose identity had been withheld, was reported to have contracted the virus from the United Arab Emirates, where he spent a nine-day vacation as part of a package tour. He fell ill and was hospitalised after getting diagnosed with respiratory problems in the northern French city of Valenciennes on April 23, Jean-Yves Grall, the French government health director, told a news conference on Wednesday.
He was later transferred to a more advanced facility in Douai on April 29, Ms Grall said, but is isolated and under medical surveillance, receiving respiratory assistance and blood transfusions. His condition is "worrying."
"This is the first and only confirmed case in France to date," France's Ministry of Health said.
Moreover, French health officials urged on people to contact the ministry should they have had come into contact with the new patient. A national hotline has been established to answer questions from the public.
Results on tests conducted on his immediate family members proved negative and they are not infected, while tests are still ongoing to the other travelers in his tour group as well as on health care workers who had contact with him in the first hospital.
The new SARS-like novel coronavirus has infected 30 people, killing 18 in the process, since September 2012. Aside from Francs, cases have emerged in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, Britain and Germany. The death tally now in Saudi Arabia has reached seven.
Coronaviruses are the culprits of the common cold but can lead to more severe illnesses including SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
Patients diagnosed with the new SARS-like virus, which has yet to be confirmed if it does spread from person to person, can have pneumonia and kidney failure.
SARS infected over 8,000 and killed 775 in a massive outbreak in 2002 and 2003.