A second person suffering from coronavirus has died in France, and a Frenchman who travelled to Italy’s Lombardy region also tested positive, the country’s health authorities said on Wednesday.
The death was one of three new cases in France this week, said Jerome Salomon, the country’s director-general of health, and an infectious disease specialist.
There are now 17 confirmed cases in the country.
A 60-year-old French national was taken to hospital in Paris in a serious condition and tested for the virus late on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, [he] died during the night,” Salomon said.
France is on high alert after neighbouring Italy became a new front in the global fight to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which the head of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention called a rapidly escalating epidemic in multiple locations.
“So far it seems that people in France are taking a cautious approach to the rising number of coronavirus cases,” said Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris. “They are certainly watching developments but there is no sense of panic yet.”
Coronavirus cases in people who travelled recently to northern Italy have now been found in France, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia and Algeria.
France’s first coronavirus death was an 80-year-old Chinese tourist, who died in hospital in mid-February.
The Frenchman who travelled to Lombardy was taken to hospital in Strasbourg and was not in a serious condition, Salomon said. The third new case involved a 55-year-old now on life support in the city of Amiens, in northern France.
The French government has asked citizens returning from Lombardy and the neighbouring Veneto region to avoid “all non-essential outings” and keep their children home from school.
The same advisory has been issued to people returning from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and South Korea.