France recorded the first death from COVID-19 outside in Europe on Saturday.

Anyone returning to Beijing must to go into quarantine for 14 days or risk punishment. The new measures were ordered by the capital’s virus prevention working group and announced by Chinese state media a late on Friday.

The working group warned there will be legal consequences for those who do not comply with the self-imposed 14-day quarantine. It did not elaborate on how the isolation will be enforced or what the punishment would be.

Chinese officials are concerned that COVID-19 may spread further as migrants return to their jobs in cities or other provinces after a prolonged Lunar New Year holiday.

Death toll reaches 1,500

The latest attempt to stop the spread of the virus came as the death toll reached 1,500 after the Hubei province’s health commission confirmed 139 more people had died.

The health commission from the central Chinese province, the epicenter of the outbreak, also disclosed 2,420 fresh cases of the COVID-19 strain, half the number from the previous day.

Read more: Coronavirus containment in Europe working ‘so far,’ says Germany’s Spahn

Revisions to diagnosis see figures surge

This week saw the scale of the epidemic increase significantly after authorities in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, changed their criteria for qualifying cases.

Patients “clinically diagnosed” through lung imaging are now included, in addition to those that have shown up positive after laboratory analysis, adding thousands of new patients to Hubei’s infection figures.

The majority of infections and deaths have been in Hubei but infection numbers have also been increasing worldwide. The first case was reported in Egypt on Friday making it the first diagnosis in Africa.

kmm,jsi/sms (AFP, AP)

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