Second person dies of coronavirus in France

PARIS (Reuters) - A second person suffering from the coronavirus died in France as health officials tried to find out how the college teacher, who had not visited any country with a known outbreak, had caught the new disease.

The 60-year-old man was already seriously ill when he was admitted to hospital in Paris late on Tuesday. He died overnight, health officials said on Wednesday.

Another man from the same northerly Hauts de France region who had the virus without having been to an affected zone was on life-support.

“Investigations are under way to determine the source of these two infections,” Etienne Champion, head of the regional health authority, told reporters.

A team was working to identify anyone who had come into contact with the men before they were identified as a high coronavirus risk. The teacher who died had been on sick-leave since Feb. 12 and his school is now on holiday.

France is on high alert after neighboring northern Italy became a new front in the global fight to contain the outbreak.

The total number of registered coronavirus cases in France now stands at 18, Health ministry director Jerome Salomon said during a press conference, stressing that, in addition to the two dead, 12 were cured and four still hospitalized.

The mayor of Nice said he was cancelling Saturday’s carnival finale in the Riviera city, which lies near the border with Italy, due to the outbreak in Europe.

In the central city of Beaune, a group of Chinese tourists were confined for several hours in their hotel after a member of their party who lived in Hong Kong died suddenly on Tuesday evening. They were released after a coronavirus test on the dead person proved negative.

In nearby Lyon, a European Champions League soccer game between Olympique Lyonnais and Juventus, from Turin in northern Italy, will go ahead on Wednesday, drawing criticism from some local politicians.

“We have a football match with 3,000 supporters coming from Italy, and ... no protective measure have been put in place,” said Christophe Quiniou, the mayor of the Lyon suburb where the stadium is located. “We’re acting like nothing’s happening.”

Italy’s virus crisis has now spread south, with the island of Sicily and regions of Tuscany and Liguria reporting cases.

A third new case in France involved a Frenchman in his 30s who had traveled to northern Italy. He was not in a serious condition, officials said.

Coronavirus cases in people who recently traveled to northern Italy have now been found in France, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia and Algeria.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Matthieu Protard and Caroline Pailliez in Paris, Catherine Lagrange in Lyon; Editing by Richard Lough, Kevin Liffey, Alex Richardson, Kirsten Donovan