French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday visited a hospital in Paris that has been treating coronavirus patients, as his government faces pressure to show the country it is dealing with the outbreak effectively.
Two people have died from the coronavirus so far in France – an elderly Chinese tourist and a 60-year-old French national.
That 60-year old victim died this week in Paris Hopital Salpetriere, which Macron visited on Thursday.
France is on high alert after neighbouring Italy became a new front in the global fight to contain the outbreak, and Macron is due to visit Italy later on Thursday.
A second person suffering from coronavirus has died in France, and a Frenchman who travelled to Italy’s Lombardy region also tested positive, the country’s health authorities said on Wednesday.
The death was one of three new cases in France this week, said Jerome Salomon, the country’s director-general of health, and an infectious disease specialist.
There are now 17 confirmed cases in the country.
“So far it seems that people in France are taking a cautious approach to the rising number of coronavirus cases. They are certainly watching developments but there is no sense of panic yet, ” said Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris.
Coronavirus cases in people who travelled recently to northern Italy have now been found in France, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia and Algeria.
France’s first coronavirus death was an 80-year-old Chinese tourist, who died in hospital in mid-February.
The third new case involved a 55-year-old now on life support in the city of Amiens, in northern France.
The French government has asked citizens returning from Lombardy and the neighbouring Veneto region to avoid “all non-essential outings” and keep their children home from school.
The same advisory has been issued to people returning from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and South Korea.