Was Europe's first COVID death in Serbia?

A new study suggests that the first death from COVID-19 in Europe may have actually occurred in Serbia - 10 days before the first reported fatality came out of France.

France reported Europe's first death on Feb. 15, 2020. But researchers in Belgrade now say that a 56-year-old construction worker from that city, who had not traveled abroad, was admitted to a hospital on Feb. 5 suffering from fever, cough and shortness of breath.

He died within hours and an autopsy showed pneumonia was the cause.

Months later, scientists at the Institute for Forensic Medicine of Belgrade's Medical Faculty, found evidence that the man had died from COVID.

Milenko Bogdanovic, a forensic pathologist, says frozen samples were taken from the man's eye to prove the presence of the virus.

"One of the conclusions of this work would be that this is, for the time being, the first post-mortem corroborated death from COVID-19 in Europe to date."

The study also says COVID-19 was probably the cause of reports of a pneumonia of unknown origin between January and February last year.

Serbia's first official case was recorded on March 6, 2020.