May 10, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – A nurse who worked at a hospital that cared for a Frenchman who is sick with a novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection may now have the virus herself, becoming the third person possibly infected in connection with the case, according to news services.
French authorities announced May 8 that the 65-year-old man had the nation's first confirmed nCoV case. He fell ill on Apr 23, 6 days after returning from a 9-day vacation in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The sick nurse works in a hospital where the man was being treated, in the northern French city of Douai, and she has been hospitalized as a suspected case, according to a Reuters report today. The story said the nurse worked in the hospital's infectious disease unit, but it was unclear whether she had direct contact with the man.
Yesterday authorities reported suspected cases in two other people who had been in contact with the 65-year-old when he was hospitalized earlier in the town of Valenciennes: a patient who shared a room with him and a doctor who treated him. Test results for those two patients were expected later today, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The suspected cases have sparked more concern about possible person-to-person transmission of the virus, which emerged in the Middle East last year. So far there have been 33 confirmed cases, with 18 deaths. Several clusters of cases have been reported, but human transmission has been clearly shown just once, in a three-person family cluster in the United Kingdom.
Last week Saudi Arabian authorities reported a cluster of nCoV patients that turned out to be centered on a hospital in Hofuf in the country's Eastern Province. Officials reported seven cases on May 2; as of yesterday the cluster had increased to 15 cases, with 7 deaths.
Twenty-five of the nCoV cases confirmed so far have been in Saudi Arabia. Other countries that have had cases are Jordan, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and the UAE.
Authorities believe the virus originated in animals, but they have been unable to identify the animal or how the virus is reaching humans.
May 10 Reuters story
May 10 AP story
May 9 CIDRAP News story "Saudi coronavirus cluster grows as France reports possible new cases"