PARIS - An elderly Chinese tourist hospitalised in France has died of the coronavirus, becoming the first fatality in Europe, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on Saturday (Feb 15).
France has recorded 11 cases of the virus, out of a global total of 63,851.
The vast majority of those suffering from the virus are in China.
The epidemic has killed more than 1,500 people.
Ms Buzyn said she was informed on Friday that the 80-year-old man, who was treated at the Bichat hospital in northern Paris since Jan 25, had died of a lung infection due to the coronavirus, adding that his condition “had deteriorated rapidly” after several critical days.
He had arrived in France on Jan 16 before he was placed in quarantine in the hospital on Jan 25.
Six people with the virus remain in hospital in France, Ms Buzyn said, adding that none was seriously ill.
Outside mainland China, there have been about 500 cases, of which roughly 35 have been reported in the European Union.
Until the death in France, there had been three deaths outside mainland China, with one in Japan, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.
The scale of the epidemic ballooned this week after officials in the Chinese province of Hubei – the epicentre of the outbreak – changed their criteria for counting cases, adding thousands of new patients to the tally.
Some 56 million people in Hubei and its capital Wuhan are now living under quarantine, virtually sealed off from the rest of the country in an effort to contain the virus.
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