Concern over Italian fans' visit to France after virus outbreak
AFP, Wednesday 26 Feb 2020

French politicians voiced concerns Wednesday about fans of Italian side Juventus travelling to Lyon for a Champions League football match due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

Former presidential candidate Segolene Royal, far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen and National Assembly member Eric Ciotti have all expressed opposition to the decision to allow the visit of the Serie A champions to the central city.

"It seems illogical and the public don't understand," Royal told France 2 TV.

"The government might have some information the public don't have, but I think to avoid sparking panic we have to consider that the French public are mature, and they have the capacity to understand it," she added.

Le Pen, who called for borders between France and Italy to be re-established, was also against the decision to allow fans of Turin-based Juventus to travel to France for the last 16 first leg tie.

"I believe it's not reasonable to welcome them and we are once again confronted by the inconsistency of the government," Le Pen told France Inter radio.

Ciotti, from the main opposition Republicans party, said he failed to understand why children returning to France from Italy had been put in quarantine but "3,000 people are coming from a high-risk zone."

But French Health Minister Olivier Veran defended the decision.

"There aren't any cases in Turin," he said on Wednesday. "We take these decisions based on scientific and medical rationale... based on facts and data."

Veran also said documents will be handed out to fans in Lyon's Groupama Stadium with information about the virus.

Earlier on Wednesday, a 60-year-old man became the first fatality from the virus in France.

France has reported four other new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, including two people returning from Italy, bringing the total number of infections to 17.

Eleven other people have recovered from the disease which has killed more than 2,600 people worldwide and infected almost 80,000 others, mainly in China.

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