Coronavirus: Number of European cases kept low because of China's 'sacrifice', minister says - Sky News


A minister has suggested the number of cases of coronavirus outside China has remained relatively low because of the "sacrifice for global health security" the country has made.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi made the remark after an 80-year-old tourist in Paris became the first person to die from the illness in Europe.

A total of 1,527 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Most of them have been in mainland China but one each has died in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan and France.

Chinese authorities have placed some 60 million people under a strict lockdown, and have 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 cancelled to prevent crowds from gathering.

Wang Yi, who appeared to be referring to the lockdown, told Sky News on Saturday: "All the infections worldwide only account for 1% of the total number in China.

"It is a highly infectious disease.

"So we are making our sacrifice for global health security."

When asked earlier about the spread of the virus, the Chinese foreign minister said: "Any assessment needs to be based on facts.

"The number of people killed has been rising for 15 days, and new infections have been declining for 12 days.

"So isn't that good?"

France's health minister Agnes Buzyn announced the first coronavirus death in Europe on Saturday.

She said: "I was informed last night of the death of an 80-year-old patient who had been hospitalised... since 25 January."

The man died at Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital in northern Paris
Image: A tourist died at Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital in northern Paris

The patient was a Chinese tourist from Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, and had a lung infection caused by COVID-19 - the disease caused by the coronavirus.

He arrived in France on 16 January and was then hospitalised on 25 January under strict isolation measures.

His condition deteriorated rapidly.

His daughter was also hospitalised but authorities say she is expected to recover.

Coronavirus: How worried should we be?
Coronavirus: How worried should we be?

Europe has 46 cases of the virus that first emerged in central China in December.

Nine European nations have reported cases, with Germany having the most at 16.

The virus has infected more than 67,000 people globally.

The World Health Organization has called the virus a threat to global health.

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