PARIS • An 80-year-old Chinese tourist has died from the coronavirus in France, the first death from the virus confirmed outside of Asia, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said yesterday.
This is the fourth fatality outside mainland China, after deaths in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan.
Professor Buzyn said she had been told about the death of the patient - who had been in hospital in Paris since late last month - late on Friday.
She added that his condition deteriorated rapidly after several days in a critical condition.
Six people with the virus remain in hospital in France, Prof Buzyn said, noting that none was seriously ill.
One of them was the dead Chinese tourist's 50-year-old daughter and the rest were British nationals who were infected by a compatriot at a French ski resort.
The virus first emerged late last year in central China's Wuhan city.
The scale of the Covid-19 outbreak ballooned last week after officials in the Chinese province of Hubei - which has Wuhan as its provincial capital - changed their criteria for counting cases, adding thousands of new patients to the tally.
Away from China, some 600 cases have been confirmed - roughly 35 of which have been reported in the European Union.
The most concentrated number of cases outside China is on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, off the Japanese coast, which is holding at least 285 people with the virus among its 3,700 crew and passengers.
There are believed to be four French nationals on Diamond Princess.
Prof Buzyn said France was "always ready to repatriate its nationals", though she made no firm commitment.
"We are following the international situation very closely," she said.
"We need to prepare our health system to deal with a possible pandemic and therefore the circulation of the virus on national territory."
She said she would take stock of the situation on Tuesday in a meeting with health experts and officials.
On Friday, Egypt confirmed its first virus case - also the first in Africa - and said the affected person was a foreigner who had been placed in isolation in hospital.
"The ministry has taken preventive measures and is monitoring the patient... who is stable," health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said, without specifying the nationality of the patient.