A number of athletes from the French delegation travelled to Wuhan to take part in the World Military Games last year. But French media has reported many of them got sick with symptoms similar to those associated with coronavirus as they returned from China.
One of the 401 army athletes, who wished to remain anonymous, told BFM TV that he suffered from a fever, breathing difficulties and was unable to get out of bed for three days.
It was then that he discovered several other fellow delegates were also suffering from similar symptoms.
Back in March, modern pentathlon world champion, Elodie Clouvel, said in an interview with local network Loire 7 that she believed she already had the coronavirus as did her partner Valentin Belaud.
Ms Clouvel said at the time: “We were in Wuhan at the Military World Games in late October and it turns out that afterwards, we all fell ill.
“Valentin missed three days of training. I was also ill. I had symptoms that I had not had before, but we did not worry.”
She went on to say how the military doctor she saw some time later suggested that “they had it because many of the delegation had been ill”.
This week, French doctors said they believed that COVID-19 was already circulating around France in late December after a patient was admitted to a Paris hospital.
The world games hosted more than 10,000 athletes from 100 countries and was held in the Chinese city from October 18 to 27.
Since the outbreak, France has seen more than 25,000 COVID-19 related deaths with more than 133,000 cases confirmed.
This week, France began to lift lockdown restrictions and President Emmanuel Macron moved forward with his controversial plan to reopen schools as early as next week.
Wuhan is considered the location for the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus towards the end of last year.
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Tensions between China and the US have increased with President Donald Trump claiming that the virus escaped from a lab in the Wuhan region. China has repeatedly rejected the claim.
Mr Trump has threatened to slap new tariffs on China in retaliation for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
China said on Wednesday tariffs should not be used as a weapon.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing how tariffs hurt all parties involved.
“So the United States should stop thinking it can use tariffs as a weapon and a big stick to coerce other countries,” she said.
This week, the Communist nation has said it will allow international experts into the country to investigate the source of coronavirus – but not until the pandemic has blown over.
Beijing made the announcement on Wednesday following weeks of criticism over its handling of the epidemic.
China’s ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun told reporters in Geneva investigators would be permitted to carry out work but only after the coronavirus crisis has come to an end.
Most of the early cases of the deadly virus could be traced back to a wet market in Wuhan.
Since the outbreak, China has continually refused repeated requests by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to take part in investigations into the origins of COVID-19.
The economy in China plummeted by 6.8 percent in the first quarter as economic activity ground to a halt because of the lockdowns.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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