Read in Catalan

Health authorities in Spain's Valencian Community have confirmed that almost three weeks ago, on February 13th, a 69-year-old man died from coronavirus in a Valencia hospital. The patient had been admitted to the Arnau de Vilanova Hospital in the eastern Spanish region, and his death was initially attributed to severe pneumonia of an unknown origin. However, it has now been confirmed that he was infected with COVID-19. The search is now on for people he may have had close contact with, although officials note that the estimated 14-day incubation period for the virus has already passed without the detection of any other unexplained coronavirus cases in Valencia.

These details were explained on Tuesday by Valencian regional health minister Ana Barceló. Although it is not known how the man became infected, he had recently travelled to Nepal - a country which at that point had only recorded one coronavirus case. The man was tested posthumously for Covid-19 after Spain changed its protocols on February 27th, requiring analyses to be made of patients who had recently died of pneumonia of unknown origins. The Valencian patient was the only such case which has yielded a positive result to the virus.

With this announcement, the death of the Valencia man is now the earliest known death outside Asia of a person suffering from the novel coronavirus. Previously it was thought that the case of a Chinese tourist who died on 15th February in France was the earliest such fatal instance of the virus. 

As of 4th March, close to 200 people in the Spanish state are known to be infected with coronavirus. The case of the 69-year-old Valencian man is the only recorded death at this time.