A Chinese embassy in Paris tracked down a woman who gloated on social media about cheating airport detection with a medicine that lowered her fever

Coronavirus detection China
Coronavirus detection China

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  • A woman who traveled from Wuhan to Europe allegedly gloated on social media that she had a low fever but took medicines to reduce her symptoms and evade airport health checks, the BBC reported.

  • She left China before the government put multiple cities that are home to nearly 30 million people on lockdown.

  • Once in France, she also shared a photograph while eating a meal in Lyon.

  • Her posts drew the ire of other social media users and came to the notice of the Chinese embassy in Paris.

  • Officials tracked her down and administered medical care. She is no longer displaying symptoms, they told BBC.

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A woman who traveled from Wuhan — the epicenter of an ongoing deadly coronavirus outbreak — allegedly gloated on social media that she had a low fever but took medicines to reduce her symptoms and evade airport health checks.

"Just before I left, I had a low fever and cough. I was scared to death and rushed to eat [fever-reducing] medicine. I kept on checking my temperature. Luckily I managed to get it down and my exit was smooth," the BBC reported the unnamed woman saying on WeChat.

The new disease, which is believed to have jumped from a snake to a person, originated in Wuhan, China, and was first reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31. Since then, more than 900 people have been infected and 26 have died as of Friday. Cases are being reported as far as the United States, Saudi Arabia, France, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

China has responded to the 2019-nCoV virus by canceling large gathering and closing off entire cities by halting public transport in and out of them, isolating more than 30 million people. The first city to be locked down was Wuhan, but the woman in question seemed to have left before it was put in place, the BBC said.

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She shared photographs while eating a meal at what she said was a Michelin-starred restaurant in Lyon.

"Finally I can have a good meal, I feel like I've been starving for two days. When you are in a gourmet city, of course, you have to eat Michelin [food]," she wrote in a post that went viral and drew widespread criticism from other WeChat users, the BBC reported.

Chinese embassy officials, who had received phone calls and emails about the woman, said it contacted her on Wednesday and asked her to get a medical checkup. She apparently took antipyretics to dull her symptoms, officials said, adding that her case was of "great importance" to them.

A subsequent statement explained that the woman's temperature was under control. She will not need additional care because she is no longer displaying any symptoms of the coronavirus, the BBC said of the embassy's report.

Her case, however, underscores a flaw in temperature screenings — the primary way airports are testing travelers for the coronavirus.

"The whole airport screening exercise is to simply give people comfort that there is some government action to protect the public," Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington, D.C., told Bloomberg. "It has no real public health utility in the case of coronaviruses. What really matters is surveillance, infection control, and isolation."

Some doctors now say that patients who succumbed to the illness exhibited symptoms like a cough, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest, but not all had a fever, which complicates the detection of the coronavirus.

"People can cross borders without a fever then get sick after their arrival and taking paracetamol or aspirin can bring a fever down so it isn't detected," World Health Organization adviser David Heymann said to Bloomberg.

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