PARIS -- France on Saturday reported the first death outside Asia of a person infected with the new virus from China, an 80-year-old Chinese tourist who two French hospitals initially turned away, and also reported a new confirmed case that brought the country's total to 12.
Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said she learned Friday night about the death of the patient, a man who tested positive for the virus in late January and had been in isolated in intensive care at a Paris hospital.
The patient, who was from the province in central China that's been hardest-hit by the virus, had a serious lung infection. All the previous deaths outside mainland China due to COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, were in Asia: one each in Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
The Health Ministry announced Saturday night that France's latest case is a British person who, like five other infected Britons, had stayed in an Alpine chalet with a businessman from England who had attended a conference in Singapore. The ministry said the new patient been tested daily while in isolation at a Lyon hospital before testing positive Saturday.
There were contradicting reports about the timing of when the Chinese tourist who died in France became ill and started to receive treatment. the tourist's illness. Buzyn said he arrived in France on Jan. 16 and was hospitalized on Jan. 25 under strict isolation measures but his condition deteriorated rapidly.
Other French medical officials had said previously that the patient arrived in France on Jan. 23 and quickly fell ill.
Dr. Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of Bichat's infectious diseases unit, said the man visited two French hospitals. Because he “didn’t fulfill the definition” of someone considered at risk of infection with the virus, the hospitals decided it was unnecessary to test him, Yazdanpanah said.
The man did not live in Wuhan, the Chinese city that was the epicenter of the outbreak, but was from Hubei province, which includes Wuhan. He later tested positive and was put in isolation at Bichat Hospital on Jan. 28, Yazdanpanah said.
As of Saturday, four of France's 12 confirmed virus cases were in people since declared “cured” and released from the hospital, including a French doctor who was allowed to go home Friday, Buzyn said. A total of seven others remained hospitalized.
Buzyn said she had no news about a French person who was among the 285 people from a cruise ship near Tokyo who tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized in Japan. Three other French are on the ship, which is in quarantine in Yokohama.
Germany's dpa news agency reported Saturday that two infected passengers on the quarantined Diamond Princess are German citizens, according to the German Embassy in Tokyo.
Nine European countries collectively have 46 cases of the virus that first emerged in central China in December, with Germany having the most at 16.
Chinese authorities have placed some 60 million people under a strict lockdown, built emergency hospitals and instituted controls across the country to fight the spread of the virus. Restaurants, cinemas and other businesses have been closed nationwide and sports and cultural events have been canceled to prevent crowds from gathering.
In Munich on Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a gathering of the world’s top defense officials and diplomats that his country was “determined to fight and win this battle” against the virus, and suggested that its efforts were paying off.
“Dawn is breaking and we are seeing light coming through,” Wang said through a translator.
He said the epidemic has presented a “severe challenge” to China’s economy growth but said it was well positioned to rebound.
“The fundamentals sustaining strong economic growth have not changed, and will not change,” he said. “After the storm comes the rainbow, and we are confident that China will emerge stronger from the epidemic.”
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said all Italians who sought repatriation from Wuhan due to the coronavirus have returned to Italy. The last was 17-year-old student who arrived on a military flight early Saturday after being twice refused passage due to a fever. The teen has tested negative for coronavirus, and will now spend two weeks in quarantine at a military facility near Rome.
David Rising in Munich, Frank Jordans in Berlin and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed.
Read all the AP stories about the coronavirus outbreak that emerged from China at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak