China toll leaps past 1,600 as first death reported outside Asia

Henrietta Strickland
February 16, 2020

The 80-year-old Chinese tourist who died in France was hospitalized January 25 with a lung infection, according to Health Minister Agnes Buzyn.

The biggest cluster outside China is on a quarantined cruise ship off Japan, with 285 infections now as dozens more cases were confirmed.

The vast majority of those suffering from the virus are in China.

China reported 2,641 new cases in the 24 hours through midnight Friday, raising the country's total to 66,492.

It is also unclear why Hubei province took a week before it implemented the new criteria, though doctors have said the new counting method allows for China to better manage the disease's spread.

The COVID-19 has posed a big threat to the medical staff in China as more than 1,700 Chinese health workers have been infected by the virus while treating the patients and six of them have died so far.

Beginning on Wednesday, Hubei province said that a "clinical confirmation" would suffice, meaning that a patient with symptoms who either had a history of contact with confirmed cases or a positive computed tomography scan showing signs of pneumonia could now be considered a confirmed case without a lab test.

France has recorded 11 cases of the virus, out of a global total of 63,851.

In an unprecedented attempt to contain the disease, the Chinese government has placed the hardest-hit cities - home to more than 60 million people - under lockdown. Restaurants, cinemas and other businesses have been closed nationwide and sports and cultural events have been canceled to prevent crowds from gathering.

The elderly Chinese man had been hospitalized in Paris, Buzin told journalists on Saturday.

Meanwhile the White House economics advisor, Larry Kudlow, said he expected the virus to "maybe" knock 0.2-0.3% off the US GDP in the first quarter.

He said the epidemic has presented a "severe challenge" to China's economy growth but said it was well positioned to rebound. "China has a strong public health and health system", said Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO's chief of emergencies. "We're encouraged that outside China, we have not yet seen widespread community transmission".

France has this morning announced the first COVID-19 coronavirus death in Europe. The last was 17-year-old student who arrived on a military flight early Saturday after being twice refused passage due to a fever.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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