35 French people landed near Marseille on Sunday 9th February 2020 from the province of Hubei, the cradle of the new coronavirus. They will be placed in quarantine.
Thirty new returnees evacuated from the Chinese province of Hubei, the cradle of the deadly coronavirus epidemic, arrived on Sunday 9th February 2020 near Marseille, where they will remain in quarantine for 14 days.
Forced to leave Wuhan in the face of the spread of the virus, they landed at the military base of Istres (Bouches-du-Rhône), from the United Kingdom where they had called, confirmed to AFP a spokesperson from this military base.
This flight is the third to bring back to France people fleeing China and the coronavirus. Some 180 people had landed in Istres on January 31, then 120 on February 2.
These new returnees will be cut off from the world for 14 days, the maximum duration of incubation of the virus, on the premises of the national higher school of firefighting officers (Ensosp) in Aix-en-Provence, where some 80 people have already been confined for a week.
All the other returnees from Wuhan to France are in a holiday center in Carry-le-Rouet, on the Blue Coast, some 30 kilometres west of Marseille.
The Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, said Friday that the passengers disembarked in Istres on Sunday must be 38. According to the latest information from the prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhône on Sunday, they were finally “35 onboard, from French nationality “.
In Aix-en-Provence, these returnees will find premises “brand new but spartan”, as described by MP LREM from Bouches-du-Rhône Anne-Laurence Petel to AFP.
“The fenced places are large and have a pine forest, but it is quite empty,” she added. Each person is accommodated in a single room and television rooms are at their disposal as well as a football field. Meals are taken in a gymnasium-style refectory.
A quite simple comfort, therefore, far from the bucolic setting offered to returnees living in Carry-le-Rouet, in a holiday centre at the edge of the Mediterranean, with swimming pool and tennis courts, in the heart of a 3.5-hectare pine forest .
If no information has filtered on the life of returnees settled for a week already in Aix-en-Provence, the atmosphere in Carry-le-Rouet could be described by a team of AFP journalists on the spot, also repatriated from Wuhan, where they were for a report.
Despite the forced isolation, the returnees from Carry-le-Rouet try to resume an almost normal life by using everyone’s skills. Improvised hairdressing salon, a school for children, French and Chinese lessons for adults, tai chi in front of the Mediterranean, everyone tries to overcome boredom after having had to temporarily give up their life in China.
No virus carrier
According to a report communicated to AFP Sunday by the prefecture, the previous returnees arrived in France are exactly 225 in Carry-le-Rouet, most of them French, and 78 in Aix-en-Provence, including 19 French.
These figures changed during the week, as some of the passengers arriving from China had to be temporarily transferred to Marseille’s Timone hospital, to ensure that they were not carrying the coronavirus.
All the returnees from Carry-le-Rouet and Aix-en-Provence have been tested twice since their arrival and none of them have contracted the coronavirus.
The outbreak of the epidemic in mainland China reached 811 deaths on Sunday, plus one death in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines. It now surpasses that of a severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sras) that had killed 774 worldwide in 2002-2003.
The epidemic is still spreading worldwide. More than 320 cases have been confirmed in thirty countries and territories, including 11 in France after the five new cases announced on Saturday in the commune of Contamines-Montjoie in Haute-Savoie.