France bans gatherings of more than 5,000 people amid coronavirus outbreak

France bans gatherings of more than 5,000 people amid coronavirus outbreak
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France has announced a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people as well as the cancellation of the Paris half-marathon that had been scheduled for Sunday amid the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The nation has banned public gatherings outright in areas north of Paris that have been hardest-hit by the outbreak, the BBC reported.

Eighteen infections have been confirmed in Oise, most of them apparently linked to a 60-year-old teacher who died of the virus earlier in the week. The government has also banned public gatherings in a town in the French Alps where cases have been reported.

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The decision came as the total number of cases nationwide rose to 100 on Saturday, with at least two deaths.

"Our goal at this stage is limit the spread," Health Minister Olivier Véran said after a Saturday cabinet meeting. The measure has already affected Paris’ annual agricultural fair, the final day of which, set for Sunday, has been canceled.

Véran has also warned against the customary French greeting of kisses on the cheek amid the outbreak, Time reported.

French officials urged those living in the worst-hit regions to “work from home if possible” and avoid any “non-essential travel,” the BBC reported.

Paris has also temporarily closed its famed Louvre Museum, with workers expressing concerns about workers from northern Italy who were at the museum to collect on-loan works by Leonardo da Vinci. More than 1,100 cases have been confirmed in Italy thus far.