A Chinese tourist died in France yesterday marking the first death related to COVID-19 in Europe and the first outside of Asia. The tourist was an 80-year-old man from the Hubei province of China. He was traveling with his daughter, who also tested positive and is currently receiving treatment, but expected to be discharged soon. Per the French health minister, the gentleman arrived in France on January 16th and has been hospitalized since January 25th.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 44 confirmed cases in Europe. Globally, there are over 66,000 cases and 1,523 deaths. The majority of deaths are in China although there has been a single death in both Japan and the Philippines. There is some concern that the number of cases isn’t accurate because early this week, Chinese health officials stated that they’re reclassifying how they count cases. As stated by the new guidelines, anyone who tests positive, but doesn’t have any symptoms (asymptomatic) is not going to be included in the number of confirmed cases. There was no detail or explanation as to why for the sudden change. On the other hand, officials in the Hubei province had expanded their method of counting to include individuals who have symptoms and had been screened by doctors as positive cases. This was being done because there aren’t enough testing supplies to test everyone who has complained of being ill.
These inconsistencies have many scientists concerned about how widespread the epidemic actually is and whether or not asymptomatic transmission is a prevalent form of how the virus is being spread. As of January 29th, it had been determined that asymptomatic transmission of the virus was happening. It’s the frequency of it that isn’t known yet. For those that live in China, they’re worried that government is not being truthful and covering up how bad the situation really is.