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Coronavirus: Europe reports first death; over 1,500 deaths globally

Two women wear face masks as they walk on the sidewalk in New York City's Chinatown on Thursday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Two women wear face masks as they walk on the sidewalk in New York City's Chinatown on Thursday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A French health official confirmed the first coronavirus death in Europe on Saturday as the global death toll reached over 1,500.

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist died of the virus in a hospital in France, French Health Minister Agnese Buzyn said, confirming the first death from the respiratory virus in Europe.

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Eleven people in France have confirmed cases of the illness and more than 67,000 have been sickened worldwide.

Most of the cases are in China where more than 1,500 people have died. Four people have died outside mainland China including in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan, and the most recent in France.

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In China, more than 1,700 medical workers were infected with the virus -- which the World Health Organization has dubbed COVID-19 -- and six have died.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's emergencies program, said at a news conference in Geneva that infections among medical workers peaked in mid-January and "rapidly" declined since.

"This may reflect increased levels of training, increased levels of protection and increased levels of awareness," Ryan said.

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Beijing issued a self-quarantine order to returning residents for them to remain at home for 14 days, state media reported.

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The Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked in Japan, has an additional 67 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases on the ship to 286. More than 3,000 people, including some 380 Americans, are on the ship. The ship has been quarantined for almost two weeks since dozens of cases were confirmed. The U.S. State Department plans to evacuate citizens and families from the ship.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox Business that the White House is hopeful testing and production on a treatment drug could begin as soon as the end of the month at the earliest or by mid-March.

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