A 60-year-old teacher who died in Paris after falling ill with the new corona-virus has become the first French casualty of the illness, health officials said on Wednesday, adding he had not travelled to an outbreak hotspot.

The man died overnight in a hospital in the capital, bringing the coronavirus death toll in the country to two, said the ministry’s deputy head, Jerome Salomon.

The first victim was an 80-year-old Chinese tourist who died in hospital in mid-February.

After feeling unwell he stopped work from February 12 — at the start of the mid-term school holidays. He was tested for the coronavirus in the emergency ward of a Paris hospital on Tuesday, shortly before he died.

Apart from the teacher, France has reported four other new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours — two in people returning from the Lombardy region of Italy, at the centre of Europe’s biggest outbreak of the disease.

Eleven people have recovered in France, bringing the total of diagnosed cases in the country to 17.

Among the four still in hospital, a 55-year-old man from the same region as the teacher was in a serious condition in hospital, said Champion.

“Investigations are underway to determine the source of the two infections,” he told journalists, and said people who had been in contact with the two — including medical staff — were being monitored.

More than 2,700 people worldwide have died of COVID-19 so far, and almost 80,000 infected, mainly in China.

The French government has asked citizens returning from Lombardy and the neighbouring Veneto region to avoid “all non-essential outings” and keep their children home from school.