Chinese tourist in France dies of coronavirus, first death in Europe: minister

PARIS (Reuters) – An elderly Chinese tourist hospitalized in France has died of the coronavirus, becoming the first fatality in Europe, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on Saturday.

France has recorded 11 cases of the virus, out of a global total of 67,000. The vast majority of those suffering from the virus are in China. The epidemic has killed more than 1,500 people.

Buzyn said she was informed on Friday that the 80-year old man, who had been treated at the Bichat hospital in northern Paris since Jan. 25, died of a lung infection due to the coronavirus.

“This is the first fatality by the coronavirus outside Asia, the first death in Europe,” Buzyn told reporters.

“We have to get our health system ready to face a possible pandemic propagation of the virus, and therefore the spreading of the virus across France,” she added.

Buzyn said the Chinese man, originally from Hubei province, arrived in France on Jan. 16. His condition quickly deteriorated and he had been in a critical condition for several days.

His daughter, who is also hospitalized in Paris, was no longer a source of concern for health authorities and could be released soon, the minister said.

Out of 11 cases in France, four patients were successfully treated and have checked out of hospital. “Six patients remain hospitalized but are no longer a source of concern today,” Buzyn said.

Outside mainland China, there have been about 500 cases in some 24 countries and territories. Until the death in France, there had been three deaths outside China, with one in Japan, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

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