22 / March / 2020 : 15-33

Coronavirus: First French hospital doctor dies of COVID-19

A French hospital doctor has died of coronavirus, the French Health minister announced on Sunday, adding that this is the first death of a doctor in the country.

"I was informed on Saturday of the death of a hospital doctor", Health minister Olivier Véran said on French TV on Sunday.

He declined to give more information, citing the family's decision and the medical confidentiality.

The victim was a emergency care doctor in a hospital in Compiègne, in the French Oise department, AFP reported, citing France 3 TV channel and their own sources.

Oise was one of the first French areas to be heavily hit by the virus.

The doctor died after being transferred for treatment to Lille, northern France.

Véran said that the "great family of medical doctors" has paid "a heavy price" in the coronavirus pandemic, and praised "the extraordinary courage of doctors, nurses, firefighters, everyone who save lives day after day".

Asked about the shortage of masks within French hospitals in the midst of a health crisis, the minister said: "What we know is that most of people in the care sector who will catch the virus will not catch it in the hospitals where they work, but outside them."

He acknowledged that doctors and nurses are "by definition those who are most in contact with the sick," adding that "there have been several cases of contamination in teams of doctors or nurses who despite wearing masks became infected".

"Protection [such as masks] is absolutely necessary for nursing staff, but with or without protection they can get sick in their professional exercise", Véran said. "Doctors and nurses get sick, too."

Dozens of hospital doctors have publicly criticised the French government in the last week, denouncing a lack of funds for the hospitals which they say are at breaking point, and warning that many are working without masks due to the shortage, which may lead to more contaminations.

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