February 26, 2020 / 11:54 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-France reports second coronavirus death, Italian link in another case

(Adds details on Chinese tourists in lockdown, Champions League soccer game)

PARIS, Feb 26 (Reuters) - A second person suffering from the coronavirus has died in France, and a Frenchman who had travelled to Italy's Lombardy region had also tested positive, the country's health authorities said on Wednesday.

France is on high alert after neighbouring Italy became a new front in the global fight to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said appeared likely to turn into a pandemic.

Jerome Salomon, the health ministry's director, said the death of a 60-year-old man who was hospitalised in Paris in a serious condition late on Tuesday was one of three new cases in the past 24 hours.

"Unfortunately (he) died during the night", Salomon said.

France has now registered 17 confirmed coronavirus infections since the outbreak erupted.

In the central city of Beaune, a group of Chinese tourists were placed in lockdown at an Ibis hotel after a member of their party from Hong Kong died suddenly on Tuesday evening.

Hotel employees were also being kept in the hotel, the local health authority said, adding that an investigation was underway into the cause of the Chinese man's death.

In nearby Lyon, there were questions over whether a Champions League soccer game between Olympique Lyonnais and Juventus, from Turin in northern Italy, should go ahead on Wednesday.

France's health minister a day earlier said there was no reason to cancel the match but that the situation was being watched carefully, with the outbreak "on our doorstep".

Lyon mayor Gerard Collomb told BFM TV it was for France's prime minister to make the call, noting there had not yet been any coronavirus cases in Turin.

Italy's virus crisis has spread south beyond its original epicentre in the north, with the island of Sicily and regions of Tuscany and Liguria reporting their first cases.

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

The Frenchman who travelled to Lombardy was hospitalised 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. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Matthieu Protard; editing by Richard Lough, Larry King)

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