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France announces 1st death in Europe of virus patient

The patient, a Chinese tourist from the province of Hubei, had a lung infection caused by the coronavirus

PARIS, France — The French health minister has announced the first coronavirus death in Europe.

French Health 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." 

The patient, a Chinese tourist from the province of Hubei, had a lung infection caused by the coronavirus. He arrived in France on Jan. 16, then was hospitalized on Jan. 25 under strict isolation measures. 

French authorities said he was initially turned away from two French hospitals when he first fell ill.

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

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Since January 24, 2020, 11 cases of the coronavirus have been detected in France. As of Saturday, four of the 11 confirmed virus cases in France have been “cured” and left the hospital.

On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern. Less than two weeks later, it named the disease caused by this coronavirus COVID-19.

On Saturday, China, where the outbreak originated, has reported 2,641 new virus cases as it escalates measures to contain the outbreak and reassure an anxious public. The figure is a major drop from the higher numbers in recent days since a broader diagnostic method was implemented.

The number of new deaths rose slightly, to 143, bringing the total fatalities in mainland China to 1,523. The number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492.

Saturday marks the second day the number of new cases fell since a spike Thursday when the hardest-hit Hubei province began including clinical diagnoses. People returning to Beijing were told to quarantine themselves for observation.

A team of experts led by the World Health Organization is due to begin its mission in China this weekend. 

However, globally more than 67,000 people have been infected.

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