5 Britons with virus hospitalized in France after Alps stay

France's Health Minister Agnes Buzyn arrives to a meeting, at the htel Matignon, Paris, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. The announcement Saturday Agnes Buzyn brings the total number of people with the virus in France to 11. Buzyn said they appear linked to a British person who stayed there in late January, and was later to confirmed to have the virus after returning to Britain. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
France's Health Minister Agnes Buzyn arrives to a meeting, at the htel Matignon, Paris, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. The announcement Saturday Agnes Buzyn brings the total number of people with the virus in France to 11. Buzyn said they appear linked to a British person who stayed there in late January, and was later to confirmed to have the virus after returning to Britain. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

France is closing two schools and trying to reassure vacationers in the Alps after five British citizens, including a 9-year-old child, contracted the new virus from China at a French ski resort.

Saturday's announcement of the five new cases in France at the height of the ski season is the latest example of how the tentacles of the virus can easily spread across multiple borders.

The five British citizens were staying in a chalet in the Alpine ski resort of Contamines-Montjoie near Mont Blanc, and were in close contact with another Briton who apparently contracted the virus in Singapore, traveled to the French Alps and then tested positive for the virus upon return to Britain, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn told reporters Saturday.

That brings the total number of virus cases in France to 11. Britain has three confirmed cases. The new type of coronavirus has infected more than 34,800 people globally and killed more than 700, nearly all of them in China, since the first illnesses were detected in December.

The five British citizens with new cases of the virus are being held in Lyon-area hospitals, along with six other Britons who were in close contact with them and are now being monitored, the French health ministry said.

The chalet where they were staying housed a British family that lives in Contamines and another family of British vacationers. The sickened child lives in Contamines and attends a local school, and took French classes at another local school, regional officials told a news conference Saturday.

Both schools will be closed, and the pupils will be monitored for signs of the virus.

Local officials sought to reassure tourists descending this weekend on one of the world's most prized ski areas that all preventive measures are being taken to stem further spread of the virus.