France on Sunday reported its first death of a hospital doctor from coronavirus.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said that as far as he knew the man who died on Saturday, he was the “first hospital doctor to be hit”.

The accident and emergency practitioner worked at a hospital in Compiegne, north of Paris, AFP was able to confirm.

Veran refused to give any more information about the victim, saying details were being withheld for medical reasons and to respect the wishes of the doctor’s family.

Compiegne is in the Oise department, the first area in France to be badly hit by the outbreak.

With a controversy raging about the lack of protective masks for medical staff in France, Veran said most of the medical staff who will contract the virus will be infected outside of their work.

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 562 people in France with a further 6 172 in hospital, of whom a quarter are in a serious condition in intensive care.

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