Coronavirus claims Japanese life in China; 5 Brits test positive in France

By: AFP      Published: 05:29 PM, 8 Feb, 2020
Coronavirus claims Japanese life in China; 5 Brits test positive in France
An elderly lady wearing a face mask as preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak as she stands outside a shop in the Sheung Shui area of Hong Kong. AFP

A Japanese man with a suspected coronavirus infection has died in hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the Japanese foreign ministry said Saturday.

The man in his 60s had been hospitalised due to severe pneumonia and the hospital reported his death to the Japanese embassy in China, the ministry said in a statement.

Chinese medical authorities said the man was highly likely to have been infected with the new coronavirus but "it is difficult to make a definitive judgement," the statement said.

His cause of death was given as viral pneumonia, it added. In a statement the Chinese foreign ministry expressed its condolences over the death, adding they had passed on "relevant information through diplomatic channels to the Japanese side".

The man would be the first Japanese victim of the outbreak if his infection is confirmed.

Brits test positive in France

Five British nationals including a child have tested positive for the new coronavirus in France, the health minister said Saturday, adding that they had all stayed at the same ski chalet.

France has now detected a total of 11 cases of the novel coronavirus, and the new "cluster" is centred on a Briton who had returned from Singapore and stayed in Contamines-Montjoie, near Mont Blanc in the French Alps, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said. "They show no serious signs" of a life-threatening infection added Buzyn, herself a doctor.

The Briton at the centre of the new cases is now in Britain and was not counted among the French tally, she told a press conference. In addition to the five Britons who have tested positive for the virus, six other Britons staying in the same chalet in late January were also hospitalised for observation, the minister said.

Authorities in France and Singapore are now trying to contact people who came into close contact with the initially infected Brit, she said. He was on a business trip and had stayed at a hotel for an event with 94 other foreigners, according to senior health official Jerome Salomon who attended the press briefing along with Buzyn.

Other "clusters" have been identified in Malaysia and South Korea around people who attended the same event, he said. Most of the six previous cases in France appear to have been treated successfully, though all are still in hospital.

One man, an 80-year-old Chinese national, is nonetheless "still in critical condition" in a Paris hospital, Salomon said. The novel coronavirus which erupted in Wuhan, central China, in December has already infected more than 34,500 people and killed more than 700, according to the latest official figures from China.