The Slatest

France Reports First Coronavirus Death Outside Asia

A man wearing a protective face mask walks his dog as he cross a nearly empty street in Beijing on February 15, 2020.
A man wearing a protective face mask walks his dog as he cross a nearly empty street in Beijing on February 15, 2020.

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist in France has become the first person to die from the new coronavirus outside Asia. The first fatality in Europe was the fourth outside mainland China and came on the same day as Beijing reported a decline in new cases Saturday. The tourist who died in France was from Hubei province, where the disease was first detected in December. He had arrived in France on Jan. 16 and had been hospitalized since Jan. 25 with a lung infection. Although his daughter also became sick, she is expected to recover.

The new virus continued spreading on Saturday with Egypt reporting the first infection on the African continent. But the figures out of China suggested numbers may be declining. China reported 2,641 new cases through midnight Friday, a decline from 5,090 in the previous 24 hours. This isn’t the first time a dip in new cases has led to optimism the virus could be getting under control but a trend has yet to emerge. In China, there were 66,492 confirmed cases and 1,523 deaths, largely in Hubei province. Around 500 cases have been reported outside mainland China.

Outside China, the largest number of cases has been reported on a cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, which is quarantined off Japan’s Yokohama port. A total of 285 people out of the 3,700 passengers have tested positive for coronavirus and taken to hospital. The United States says it will evacuate Americans who are on the ship; they will be quarantined in the United States. An estimated 380 American citizens will be flown out Monday. “Passengers will be screened for symptoms and we are working with our Japanese partners to ensure that any symptomatic passengers receive the required care in Japan if they cannot board the flight,” the The U.S. embassy in Tokyo said in a letter to passengers.

While passengers aboard the Diamond Princess have been living through what some have described as a nightmare scenario, passengers in another cruise didn’t have much to complain about. The MS Westerdam cruise ship was forced to wander around for two weeks until Cambodia allowed the ship to dock. “Everyone says ‘poor you’. But there was no poor you. We had free internet and free wine. We had three-course meals. There was so much choice,” said Zahra Jennings, a retired nurse from Britain.