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Coronavirus: 2K face masks stolen from French hospital

Thieves make off with critical preventative masks in midst of coronavirus outbreak

Cindi Cook   | 04.03.2020
Coronavirus: 2K face masks stolen from French hospital

PARIS

Approximately 2,000 surgical masks were stolen Wednesday from Conception Hospital in the southern French city of Marseille. 

According to the Marseille Hospitals Authority, an internal investigation has been launched at the hospital, one that is accessible only to staff and those having had surgery.

The theft comes in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that has since December, spread from its epicenter in Wuhan, China, to small towns in Europe, with France being an area of increasing concern.

In the past week, the number of infected in France rose to 212 with fatalities standing at four.

President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised speech Tuesday the government would requisition all surgical masks nationwide, along with the means of production, solely for use with patients and health care workers.

An initial outbreak occurred in early February in the French Alps town of Contamines-Montjoie. Five British nationals, which included a 9-year-old, contracted the disease when they came into contact with another British national at a vacation ski chalet.

In the weeks since, cases have occurred in Brittany, the Oise region to the north, and in Paris.

France closed 120 schools as a safeguard against the spread of the disease until further notice, affecting an estimated 50,000 students.

Concern happened in parallel as the virus became more active in neighboring Italy, with 92 deaths reported there to date along with 2,502 reported ill.

The spread of the virus has cast a nontraditional path, with those stricken having, and not having, traveled to the either the epicenter or other areas in Asia.

Worldwide, the virus has claimed 3,198 lives in 77 countries with 93,094 cases reported, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

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