First case of coronavirus confirmed in Belgium

First case of coronavirus confirmed in Belgium
The infection continues to crop up across Europe. Credit: © Belga

Belgium has reported its first confirmed coronavirus case after one of the nine Belgians repatriated from China at the weekend tested positive, authorities said Tuesday.

The public services (FPS Santé) said that one of the repatriated persons, who were put in quarantine in a military hospital after their arrival, "appeared to be infected by the new coronavirus."

"The results of the other compatriots are negative," the FPS wrote in an online statement, published on a recently released coronavirus website.

The patient, whose identity was not disclosed, was said to be in good health and to have not developed any symptoms from the virus at the time of the tests.

On Monday evening, they were transferred to Brussels Saint-Pierre hospital, designated as reference health centre to treat any potential coronavirus cases.

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The announcement on Tuesday comes as the death toll from the deadly outbreak surged to 426, with the first two deaths outside China declared in the Philippines and in Hong Kong.

The infected patient was among a group of around 350 Europeans, including nine Belgians and three relatives, who were voluntarily repatriated from the province of Hubei, whose capital city Wuhan is the epicentre of the outbreak.

Belgium's first confirmed case comes as the virus, which has sickened at least 20,000 people since it broke out in late December, continues to spread globally, with the World Health Organisation declaring the outbreak a global health emergency last week.

In Europe, France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK have all confirmed cases of the virus.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

Correction: The first confirmed deaths outside of China took place in Hong Kong and the Philippines, not in Thailand.

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