The first death from Coronavirus outside China has been recorded, as a 44-year-old man died of the virus in the Philippines.
The deceased was a Chinese man from Wuhan, in Hubei province, where the virus was first detected.
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He appeared to have been infected before arriving in the Philippines, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday.
According to the Philippines Department of Health, the man travelled to the Philippines from Wuhan, via Hong Kong, with a 38-year-old Chinese woman who also tested positive for the virus last week.
Officials said he was admitted to a hospital in the capital, Manila, and then developed severe pneumonia.
According to local news outlet Rappler, Francisco Duque III, Philippines’ Health Secretary, said the patient was “stable and showed signs of improvement”, but his condition deteriorated rapidly over 24 hours.
“We are currently working with the Chinese embassy to ensure the dignified management of the remains according to national and international standards to contain the disease,” Duque said.
He added that the man’s body would be cremated.
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The Department of Health was now trying to track down people who were on the same flight as the man so that they can be quarantined, he said, as well as any other people the man and woman may have come into contact with, such as hotel staff.
Speaking on the case, Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the WHO representative to the Philippines, urged people to remain calm.
“This is the first reported death outside China. However, we need to take into mind that this is not a locally acquired case. This patient came from the epicentre of this outbreak,” he said.
The fatality comes just as the death toll from the virus in China rose to 304.
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The vast majority of the deaths are recorded in Hubei, and more than 14,000 people have been infected.
The United States, Australia and an increasing number of other countries have barred the arrival of foreigners from China and are requiring their own citizens to undergo quarantine.
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