The spreading coronavirus epidemic shut down France's Louvre Museum on Sunday, with workers who guard its trove of artworks fearful of being contaminated by the museum's flow of visitors from around the world.

Iran Press/Europe: This is just one of many measures put in place to try and contain the disease, as the number of coronavirus cases in France passed 100 on Saturday night – including two people who have died and nine who are in a serious condition.

“We are very worried because we have visitors from everywhere,” said Andre Sacristin, Louvre staffers union representative.

“The risk is very, very, very great," he said in a phone interview. While there are no known virus infections among the museum's 2,300 workers, “it’s only a question of time,” he said.

Also worrying staffers is that museum workers from northern Italy are now visiting the Louvre. They have come to collect works by Leonardo da Vinci that were loaned for a major exhibition, according to Sacristin.

A short statement from the Louvre said a staff meeting about virus prevention efforts stopped the museum from opening as scheduled Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon, would-be visitors were still waiting to get inside.

A meeting with the museum management is scheduled for Monday. Sacristin, who will be taking part, said museum visitors should be subjected to health checks and that “if there are cases, then the museum should be closed."

France’s most famous museum is one of many places in the country affected by the government’s measures to try and curb the coronavirus’ spread. On Saturday, France banned all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

These measures were decided on Saturday during an exceptional meeting of the Defence Council, chaired by President Emmanuel Macron. They are part of the transition to stage 2 of the epidemic, on a scale of 3.

The ban "potentially affects hundreds of concert halls in France with more than 5,000 seats, and therefore thousands of cultural events", the French cultural workers’ union Prodiss warned in a press release.

At the same time, Paris’ celebrated Agricultural Show, one of the biggest commercial events in France, ended on Saturday evening 24 hours ahead of schedule, after attendance had already been substantially lower. It attracted some 630,000 visitors in 2019, but this year there were just 480,221 despite it lasting one day less.


Read More:

Coronavirus a global issue, in need of collective action

Armenia reports first coronavirus infection

Number of Coronavirus cases in Spain reaches 58