First French hospital doctor dies of coronavirus

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Updated: March 22, 2020 8:53:56 PM

Health Minister Olivier Veran said that as far as he knew the man -- who died Saturday -- was the "first hospital doctor to be hit".

Mayor Philippe Marini said the victim “would soon have been 68” and had treated some of the first cases in the Oise department, the first area in France to be badly hit by COVID-19. (Reuters)

The first French hospital doctor has died of coronavirus, authorities said Sunday. The 67-year-old emergency room medic worked at Compiegne hospital, north of Paris, the town mayor told AFP. Health Minister Olivier Veran said that as far as he knew the man — who died Saturday — was the “first hospital doctor to be hit”.

Mayor Philippe Marini said the victim “would soon have been 68” and had treated some of the first cases in the Oise department, the first area in France to be badly hit by COVID-19. He was infected in early March, Marini said, and died in hospital in the northern city of Lille, where some of the most serious cases are being treated.

Veran refused to give any more information about the victim, saying details were being withheld for medical reasons and to respect the wishes of the doctor’s family. The doctor is thought to be the first French medical professional to die in the epidemic, which has so far claimed 562 lives in France. A further 6,172 are in hospital, a quarter of them in a serious condition.

With a controversy raging about the lack of protective masks for medical staff, Veran said most medical staff who contract the virus would be infected outside of their work. The minister said that although protection for frontline staff was “absolutely indispensable”, there had also been several cases of doctors and nurses falling ill when they were equipped with masks.

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