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First novel coronavirus death in Belgium

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Medical staff registrate samples taken to drivers at a “drive-through” testing facility for the novel coronavirus at the “Hopital de la Citadelle” hospital in Liege, on it’s opening day on March 10, 2020. – Belgium has recorded its first death from the novel coronavirus strain that is sweeping the globe, health officials said Wednesday. (Photo by ERIC LALMAND / BELGA / AFP) / Belgium OUT

Belgium has recorded its first death from the novel coronavirus strain that is sweeping the globe, health officials said Wednesday.

Maggie De Block, health minister in the caretaker federal government, said the victim was 90 years old.

The ministry is to hold a news conference later in the day, but as of Tuesday Belgium had recorded 267 cases of the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19 disease.

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China remains the hardest-hit country overall with more than 80,000 cases and 3,000 deaths, out of 117,339 cases and 4,251 fatalities worldwide.

But the virus is spreading rapidly in Europe, in particular in Italy, where the death toll had risen Tuesday by a third to 631.

Belgium’s first death was in Brussels, which in addition to being the Belgian capital is home to the headquarters of the European Union and the NATO alliance.

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