A member of France’s National Assembly has been hospitalised and is in intensive care after testing positive for coronavirus, the lower house of parliament said in a statement on Thursday. Jean-Luc Reitzer has been an MP since 1988 and is a member of the centre-right Les Républicains (LR) party, according to French media reports.
M Reitzer, 68, is currently receiving treatment at a hospital in the eastern French town of Mulhouse and is in a “serious condition”.
A parliamentary snack bar worker has also contracted the virus and been confined to his home; while another worker in parliament’s main dining hall has been taken to hospital as a precautionary measure after displaying symptoms, the Assembly said.
All personnel have been informed about the situation, it added.
Earlier in the day, President Macron warned the public that it appeared to be inevitable that the coronavirus outbreak would develop into an epidemic.
“There comes a point when we all know that … an epidemic is inexorable,” M Macron said in a video posted on the Elysée Palace website.
Three more people died from coronavirus infection in France on Thursday, bringing the total to seven, while the number of confirmed cases rose by 138 to 423, the head of the public health service Jerome Salomon said at a daily briefing about the virus.
A total of 23 people are in a very serious condition, he added.
In a sign of growing concern over the worsening situation in France, the European parliament announced that the venue for next week’s session would be moved from Strasbourg in eastern France to the Belgian capital Brussels.
Parliament president David Sassoli said in a statement: “The situation related to the spread of the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has evolved over the last few days and hours.
“In particular, new infection clusters have been confirmed and case numbers are rising.
“The necessary security conditions are not in place for the usual transfer of the European parliament to Strasbourg for the plenary session next week.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has scrambled to contain the global panic, insisting the virus can be contained and controlled with a concerted response by all governments.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged governments to harness all ministries to tackle the virus.
Mr Tedros told reporters in Geneva: “This is not a drill. This is not a time to give up.
“This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops.
“The epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government.”
“We are calling on every country to act with speed, scale and clear-minded determination,” he added, before warning that “some countries have either not taken this seriously enough, or have decided there is nothing they can do”.
The virus has spread to more than 80 countries, infecting 100,000 people and killing more than 3,300, according to the latest tally.
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