Europe Has First Virus Death as Fatalities Move Beyond Asia

(Bloomberg) -- An elderly Chinese tourist died in France on Saturday of the coronavirus, becoming the first fatality of the disease outside of Asia.

The 80-year-old man died in a Paris hospital, leaving 10 remaining cases in France, including his 50-year-old daughter. Of the remaining cases, four have recovered and been released from hospital, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said Saturday. With 16 cases, Germany has the most infections in Europe. Globally, cases now top 67,000 and the virus has killed more than 1,500 people worldwide, with only a handful of those deaths coming outside of China.

“We have to prepare our health system to face a potential pandemic dispersion of the virus and thus to see the virus circulate on the national territory,” Buzyn said at a press conference in Paris.

Health officials are struggling to gauge whether the spread of the outbreak is nearing a peak after China upended expectations this week. The country changed the data and the way cases are diagnosed, adding 15,000 more and forcing a dramatic recalculation of where the country stands in containing the spread. Prior to the adjustment, the growth in cases had been slowing, raising hopes that the crisis was coming under control.

Earlier this month, a cluster of cases in France, Spain and the U.K. were traced to a French ski resort, where the infected people had contact with a British man who had just returned from a conference in Singapore in January that led to infections in at least five countries.

The first group of 181 French citizens evacuated back to France from Wuhan in China, the epicenter of the epidemic, were released yesterday after two weeks in quarantine and displayed no signs of the virus. A second group of 157 people, held in another location in southern France, is due to be released soon.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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