The first coronavirus death outside Asia has been confirmed in France, it has been reported.

French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said an elderly Chinese tourist treated in a hospital in France became the first death to the virus in Europe, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Minister Buzyn said: "I was informed last night of the death of an 80-year-old patient who had been hospitalised ... since January 25."

The patient, a Chinese tourist from the province of Hubei who had arrived in France on January 16, had a lung infection caused by the virus.

He was treated in hospital under strict isolation measures and his condition deteriorated rapidly.

His daughter was also taken to hospital but authorities say she is expected to recover.

In mainland China, the death toll from Covid-19 has passed 1,500 after health authorities reported another 143 deaths early on Saturday morning.

That increase saw the total reach 1,523 deaths.

However, authorities also said the latest 2,641 daily new cases of the virus represented a "major drop", due to the widespread implementation of a new diagnostic method.

The total number of confirmed cases globally now stands at more than 67,000.