A total of five doctors have now died in France after contracting the coronavirus, the government confirmed on Monday, as concern grows over the welfare of medical practitioners on the frontline.
Four more doctors have died after contracting the coronavirus in France, officials said on Monday, a day after the country reported the first death of a doctor treating COVID-19 patients.
“We will never forget them,” France’s Health Minister Oliver Véran said on Monday evening.
France reported its first death of a hospital doctor from coronavirus on Sunday, an accident and emergency practitioner who worked at a hospital in Compiègne, north of Paris.
Véran said that as far as he knew the man – who died on Saturday – was the “first hospital doctor to be hit” by the coronavirus.
But on Monday local authorities said that two more doctors – a 66-year-old gynaecologist-obstetrician and 60-year-old general practitioner, also died.
The three doctors worked in the départements of Oise, Haut-Rhin and Moselle in the eastern area of France that was the worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
A general doctor aged 70 died in the hospital in the eastern city of Colmar, also in eastern France, with another doctor aged 68 died in Trevenans just to the south, medical sources and local officials said.
With a controversy raging about the lack of protective masks for medical staff in France, Véran said most of the medical staff who will contract the virus will be infected outside of their work.
“This week, 20 million masks will be delivered to hospitals and Ephads in France,” Véran said.
The minister said that although protection for frontline staff was “absolutely indispensable”, there had been several cases of doctors and nurses falling ill when they were equipped with masks.
The virus has so far killed 860 people in France with a further 8,675 in hospital, of whom 2,000 are in a serious condition in intensive care.
Hospitals in Mulhouse and Colmar are reported to be a “breaking point” due to the sheer number of cases and a military hospital has set up in Mulhouse, while some patients have been airlifted to some of the less-affected areas of France, or over the border to Germany.