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France Confirms First Coronavirus Death in Europe
French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on Saturday that an 80-year-old Chinese man died after being infected with the new coronavirus on Friday at a hospital in Paris.
The unidentified man, a tourist, was from Hubei province, the location of Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak. Buzyn said he arrived in France on Jan. 16 and had been hospitalized at the Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital since Jan. 25 until he died.
Buzyn added that the man’s condition deteriorated quickly and he was in critical condition for several days prior to his death. The man’s daughter also has the coronavirus and was also hospitalized in Paris, but she is expected to be released from the hospital in the near future, Buzyn said.
Currently, France has 11 known cases of the virus.
US to Evacuate Americans From Ship off Japan
The United States is preparing to evacuate Americans held in medical isolation on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan.
About 380 U.S. citizens and their family members on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama, Japan, are being offered the opportunity to be sent back to the United States via a direct flight organized by the State Department.
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo told American passengers and crew on board in an email (pdf) sent 3:24 a.m. Saturday Tokyo time that a chartered aircraft is set to arrive in Japan late Sunday, Feb. 16.
Doctors Without Borders Sends Supplies to Hospital in Wuhan
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, is sending some 3.5 tons of specialized medical protective equipment from to a hospital in Wuhan treating patients with COVID-19.
The supplies are coming from MSF Supply in Brussels, Belgium through the Hubei Charity Federation to Jinyintan hospital, according to an update from MSF.
“Medical protective equipment is key. So, we want to contribute to supporting frontline health workers with the specialized protection they need to work safely in an outbreak of this magnitude,” Gert Verdonck, MSF’s Emergency Coordinator said.
The MSF is also donating one ton of personal protective equipment to the Hong Kong St John Ambulance service to help the group until they can replenish their stocks.
“The staff are transporting high-risk patients, and therefore, it is important to ensure that they have the specialized protection they need to work safely,” MSF said.
US Prepared to Help North Korea
The United States said it’s ready to assist North Korea in preventing the new coronavirus from entering the country and containing the virus if it does.
“The United States is deeply concerned about the vulnerability of the North Korean people to a coronavirus outbreak,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
American officials “strongly support and encourage the work of U.S. and international aid and health organizations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus” in North Korea, she added.
Chinese Regime Fires Party Bosses in Wuhan
State-run media outlet Xinhua reported on Feb. 13 that Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong has replaced Jiang Liangchao to be the Party boss of Hubei province.
On the same day, the Party boss of Wuhan city, Ma Guoqiang, was also replaced by Wang Zhonglin, previously Party boss of Jinan city in Shandong province.
Both of the newly appointed officials made their careers in the Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC), a Party agency that oversees the country’s security apparatus, including courts, police, and armed police.
Funeral Home Workers Across China Sent to Wuhan
Funeral home workers across China are heading to Wuhan to assist the city in dealing with the uptick in related deaths. Meanwhile, netizens shared on social media job recruitment notices offering workers high salaries to work at Wuhan funeral homes.
This adds to growing evidence that deaths due to the virus are piling up, at a scale greater than what authorities are officially reporting.
As of Feb. 14, the Chinese central government announced that more than one thousand patients have died in Wuhan in the past 45 days. But staff at local crematoriums told The Epoch Times in recent interviews that their intake has skyrocketed in recent weeks, forcing them to work round the clock in order to process the bodies daily.
“We transport the bodies 24 hours a day. Now every single male employee is involved. As long as they can still move, they will work,” the official said. pic.twitter.com/e019KAAYnz
— NTD News (@news_ntd) February 14, 2020
Egypt Sees First Confirmed Case in Africa
Egypt has confirmed its first case of COVID-19, which also marks the first case in Africa.
The patient is under isolation in hospital, and is not an Egyptian national, according to local media, citing a statement released by Egypt’s Ministry of Health earlier Friday. One news outlet reported that the person is a Chinese national.
The person has yet to show any symptoms of being ill, the ministry also said, adding that they were identified based on travel patterns, thanks to the ministry’s contingency and prevention plan, which involves electronically registering and monitoring people coming from coronavirus-affected countries.
The ministry said it informed the World Health Organization about the case. WHO Egypt confirmed the news on Twitter.
Egypt suspended all flights on its national carrier to China earlier this month. The suspension is expected to last until at least the end of this month. AFP reported that 301 Egyptians were earlier evacuated from Wuhan— the epicenter of the virus—and have remained in quarantine for 14 days.
In other parts of Africa, suspected patients have been quarantined in Ethiopia, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and Botswana. An article in The Lancet said that WHO “has prioritized support for 13 countries on the basis of their close transport links with China: Algeria, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.”
For updates from Feb. 14, click here.