French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on Saturday that an 80-year-old Chinese tourist has died of the fast-spreading coronavirus in France, becoming the first fatality in Europe.
Buzyn told reporters: “This is the first fatality by the coronavirus outside Asia, the first death in Europe.”
Buzyn added: “We have to get our health system ready to face a possible pandemic propagation of the virus, and therefore the spreading of the virus across France.”
France has recorded 12 cases of the virus, out of a global total of 67,000. The vast majority of those suffering from the virus are in China. The epidemic has killed more than 1,500 people.
Buzyn said she was informed on Friday that the patient, who had been treated at the Bichat hospital in northern Paris, died of a lung infection due to the coronavirus.
Buzyn said the Chinese man, originally from Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, arrived in France on 16 January. His condition quickly deteriorated and he had been in a critical condition for several days.
The man’s daughter, who is also in hospital in Paris, is, according to the minister, no longer a source of concern for health authorities and could be released soon.
France also reported a 12th case on Saturday, a British national who was part of a group staying at a chalet in the French Alps. Five of them had initially been diagnosed with the virus.