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COVID-19 coronavirus: First death in Europe as Chinese tourist dies in France

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COVID-19 coronavirus: First death in Europe as Chinese tourist dies in France
Copyright  Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved   -   Michel Euler
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Europe's first death from COVID-19 coronavirus was confirmed on Saturday with the announcement that an 80-year-old Chinese tourist has died in a Paris hospital.

The man had been treated in quarantine in the city's Bichat Hospital since January 25 said France's health minister, Agnès Buzyn. He had arrived in the country on January 16.

"He was suffering from a coronavirus pulmonary infection," she said. "His condition rapidly got worse and he had been in a critical situation for several days in intensive care.

"His daughter also has the COVID19 virus and is also hospitalised at Bichat, her health condition is not causing concern anymore and she should be released soon."

Africa's first death from COVID-19 coronavirus came on Friday when Egypt confirmed one fatal case.

Dip in number of new COVID-19 cases

So far, the virus has killed 1,666 people, the overwhelming majority in China. There have been individual cases in Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, China announced a dip in new cases. It reported 143 virus deaths on Saturday, while announcing new anti-disease measures as businesses reopen following sweeping controls.

The Lunar New Year holiday in January had been extended to keep factories and offices closed, but officials have been ordered to revive business activity as economic losses mount.

However, anyone returning to Beijing will have to isolate themselves at home for 14 days to protect the capital.

The overall number of new COVID-19 cases overnight was 2,641 — much lower than in previous days, when changes to diagnosis and methods of counting saw a huge spike.

The United States said it would fly home Americans who were quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan.

Also this weekend, a team of World Health Organization experts were due to begin a mission in China.

“Particular attention will be paid to understanding the transmission of the virus, the severity of the disease and the impact of ongoing response measures,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.

A WHO official, speaking at a conference in Munich, defended China's handling of the outbreak.

“Some of the rhetoric for me has not been helpful, not been helpful at all. China has a strong public health and health system," said Michael Ryan, WHO's chief of emergencies. "I think we as the global community need to change our narrative if we’re going to work successfully with China and other countries to stop this disease.”