France reports first coronavirus death in Europe

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist has died in France - marking the first coronavirus fatality in Europe, and the fourth outside mainland China.

Health officials confirmed on Saturday (February 15) that more than 2,600 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in mainland China, a day after people returning to the capital from holidays were ordered to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

The total of confirmed infections across mainland China has now reached over 66,000, with the total number of deaths at just over 1, 500.

China's National Health Commission said the government would maintain efforts to contain the spread of virus in Wuhan, which has been under virtual lockdown for three weeks.

Residents there have been stocking up at supermarkets with whatever they can find on the shelves, with checkout staff wearing protective suits

The biggest cluster of cases outside China has been on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that has been quarantined since arriving in Yokohama, Japan, on Feb. 3, with 3,500 passengers and crew on board, of whom 285 have tested positive for the infection.

A top Chinese official acknowledged the virus was a huge challenge, but defended the government's management of it and lashed out at the "over-reaction" of some countries.

State Councillor Wang Yi, described the virus as ''under control''.

The virus is killing about 2% of those infected and has spread faster than any other respiratory virus this century.