Coronavirus: First fatality in Europe as Chinese tourist dies in France

People are seen on a tube wearing face masks. A total of nine people in the UK are now being treated for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Doctors have warned that the London Underground could be a hotbed for the coronavirus. (Photo by S.C. Leung / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Coronavirus has claimed its first life in Europe, according to reports, with a Chinese tourist in France believed to have died. (Picture: S.C. Leung / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Coronavirus has claimed its first fatality outside Asia following the death of a Chinese tourist in France.

The victim was an 80-year-old man from China's Hubei province.

French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said: “I was informed last night of the death of an 80-year-old patient who had been hospitalised … since January 25.”

The patient, who arrived in France on 16 January, had a lung infection caused by the virus.

He was treated in hospital under strict isolation measures and his condition deteriorated rapidly.

His daughter was also taken to hospital but authorities say she is expected to recover.

Covid-19: confirmed cases. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic by PA Graphics.
Covid-19: confirmed cases. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic by PA Graphics.

The news comes as the death toll from coronavirus – also known as Covid-19 – in mainland China passed 1,500 after health authorities reported another 143 deaths early on Saturday morning, taking the total to 1,523 deaths.

Despite the rise in deaths, China said the 2,641 new cases reported in the 24 hours to midnight on Friday represented a “major drop” in new cases.

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The total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492, according to China’s National Health Commission.

The fluctuation in numbers comes after authorities changed the basis for counting patients.

Around 600 cases have been confirmed outside mainland China and until now there had been three deaths — in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan.

The total number of confirmed cases globally now stands at more than 67,000.

In the UK, health officials have contacted more than 200 people who attended a conference in central London after it emerged one delegate is suffering from coronavirus.

The person taken ill is one of nine people diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK.

It comes as United Airlines confirmed it offered assistance at Heathrow Airport on Friday after a passenger fell ill on one flight, with reports suggesting the person involved may have had symptoms of coronavirus.

At least one more plane has been held at Heathrow for checks.

Meanwhile, a Channel 4 employee is among those being tested for coronavirus after feeling unwell following a trip to Asia.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: “On Thursday, a member of staff at Channel 4 who had travelled to Asia within the last month felt unwell.

“As a precautionary measure, they decided to seek medical advice and, in line with the latest public health advice regarding the coronavirus, they were taken to hospital for a precautionary test.

“We have informed our staff of this and continue to follow all the latest public health guidance.”