Thieves steal 10,000 masks from French hospitals amid coronavirus outbreak

·2 min read
People wear a face mask on the Trocadero esplanade in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, March 3, 2020, as France confirmed a more than 200 persons infected with coronavirus, on February 29 in France. (Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
More than 10,000 face masks have been stolen from hospitals in France. (Getty)

More than 10,000 masks have been stolen from hospitals in France amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Paris hospitals said 8,300 surgical masks had disappeared from several sites, while Conception hospital in Marseille reported it was missing 2,000 of them.

Officials said 1,200 bottles of hand sanitiser gel had also been taken from locations in the capital.

The masks in Marseille were stolen on Tuesday from a location in the hospital that is accessible only to staff and patients who have undergone surgery, officials said.

French President Emmanuel Macron (2R) flanked by French Health and Solidarity Minister Olivier Veran (2L) and French Director General of Health Jerome Salomon (L) visit the CORRUSS center (Centre operationnel de regulation et de reponse aux urgences sanitaires et sociales) focused on the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak on March 3, 2020 in Paris. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
French president Emmanuel Macron (second right) with health officials. (Getty)

Marseille hospitals authority (AP-HM) said: "The AP-HM immediately launched an internal investigation to find the culprits.”

It said the hospital had enough masks to continue operations as normal, but that it had ordered more and taken steps to secure its stocks.

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President Emmanuel Macron has announced that authorities will requisition all face mask stocks and production in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Macron said they would be reserved for coronavirus patients and health professionals.

On Tuesday, France had 212 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, up from 191 on Monday.

In total four people have died from the infection in the country.

The fourth victim was a 92-year-old man in the Morbihan department in the western region of Brittany.

Read more: Coronavirus: Italy 'considering closing all schools and universities until mid-March'

Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus (Picture: PA)
Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus (Picture: PA)

In total, 85 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK.

As of Wednesday, a total of 16,659 people in the UK have been tested.

Government scientific experts predict the UK’s coronavirus outbreak could last around four to six months.

Globally, there are now more than 90,000 cases worldwide, with more than 3,000 deaths.

Thieves in Japan reportedly made off with around 6,000 masks from a hospital in the western city of Kobe in mid-February.