A woman from Wuhan, the town in eastern China that has been at the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, took to the Chinese social media site WeChat on January 22 to post about how she had avoided screening for the disease when arriving in France. In the same post, she explains that she actually was exhibiting symptoms of the virus, also known as 2019-nCoV, when she landed in Lyon, including a cough and fever that she managed to reduce by taking antipyretics.
More than 830 people have been infected and at least 26 have died since the outbreak began in Wuhan in late December.
The woman's posts were quickly picked up and spread rapidly across French social media outlets, with people panicking that she would be the first case of the virus in France.
Post by @Conflits_FR (translated from French): Confirmation that a Chinese woman from #Wuhan who, upon landing in #Lyon, bragged on WeChat that she had avoided screening at the airport in spite of her cough and fever. There is no proof that she has #coronavirus but her attitude is irresponsible.
The Chinese Embassy in France confirmed the rumour on January 23 and said that they had “made contact with the individual in question” and told her to “immediately call 15 [Editor’s note: the French emergency number] and seek urgent emergency medical care".
The spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in France shared a statement on the @AmbassadeChine Twitter account after making contact with the ill traveller who bragged about avoiding coronavirus screening upon her entry to France.
French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said during a news briefing that “no suspicious cases” of coronavirus have been detected in France for the time being and that while two cases had been investigated, neither turned out to be the virus in question. The minister said that “all travellers coming from Wuhan get information about proper conduct."