France warns against handshakes as corona infections soar

Women wearing masks leave a Creil's hospital, where people tested positive for coronavirus have been treated, France, February 27, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

PARIS (Reuters) - French authorities on Friday recommended that people refrain from shaking hands to prevent infection from the coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases jumped by 19 to 57.

France will also keep several schools in the Oise area north of Paris closed after holidays end on Sunday in order to halt the spread of the virus, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

“The virus is now circulating on our territory ... I recommend that, for now, people do not shake hands,” Veran told reporters at a daily briefing about the outbreak.

Veran called on citizens to help stop the spread of the virus by respecting authorities’ safety instructions.

“Protect yourself and your loved ones,” he said.

Separately, Defense Minister Florence Parly said on her Twitter feed that several confirmed coronavirus infections had been reported on the military base of Creil, north of Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said on Friday that the government will meet on Saturday to discuss the health crisis.

On Thursday, the health ministry had reported 38 cases of coronavirus in France, of which two people had died, 12 were cured and 24 were hospitalized, with two of those being in a “serious condition”.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq, Matthieu Protard and John Irish; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Franklin Paul and Chizu Nomiyama