France Announces First Coronavirus Death in Europe

February 15, 2020 Updated: February 15, 2020
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France’s health minister has announced the first coronavirus death in Europe.

Minister Agnes Buzyn says Saturday that “I was informed last night of the death of an 80-year-old patient who had been hospitalized … since Jan. 25.”

Agnes Buzyn
French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn gives an announcement at a news conference in Paris, France, on Feb. 15, 2020. (Screenshot/Reuters TV)

The patient, a Chinese tourist from the province of Hubei, had a lung infection caused by the COVID-19 virus. He arrived in France on Jan. 16, then was hospitalized on Jan. 25 under strict isolation measures. His condition deteriorated rapidly.

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

Currently, France has 11 known cases of the virus, including the latest death. Europe has 46 cases of the virus. Nine European nations have reported cases, with Germany having the most at 16.

The World Health Organization has called the virus a threat to global health.

Chinese authorities have placed some 60 million people under a strict lockdown, built emergency hospitals and instituted controls across the country to fight the spread of the virus. Restaurants, cinemas, and other businesses have been closed nationwide and sports and cultural events have been canceled to prevent crowds from gathering.

The new virus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in early December. It is in the same family of pathogens that cause the flu and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The most common symptoms reported from the new virus are fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing, although Chinese researchers have noted other symptoms, such as fatigue, diarrhea, chest pains, and headaches.

The incubation period—or amount of time from exposure to the onset of symptoms—is said to be up to 14 days. However, a recent study from Chinese researchers, which examined over 1,000 cases of the disease, found a patient who didn’t exhibit symptoms for as long as 24 days. One Chinese health official in Jinzhong, a city in Shanxi Province, also noted a case of one female patient who was hospitalized 40 days after traveling to Wuhan; she was diagnosed two days after hospitalization.

Health experts have confirmed that the virus is contagious even when the infected person has not yet exhibited symptoms. But there’s still no consensus as to how potent the virus is.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday warned that the virus could “take a foothold” inside the United States, saying that at some point, “we are likely to see community spread in the U.S. or in other countries,” according to a press conference.

The CDC advises that people should not travel to China and that they should avoid contact with those infected with the virus, and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.