BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon recorded its first death from coronavirus on Tuesday, and local broadcasters said the patient had been in quarantine after returning from Egypt.

The government has halted flights for non-residents from epicenters of the virus, shut schools and warned against public gatherings as the total number of cases rose to 41 this week.

A health ministry official said the man who died was 56 and had suffered from a chronic illness. The patient had been in quarantine in a Beirut state hospital.

Health Minister Hassan Hamad has warned the virus was spreading and asked Lebanese to take precautions without panicking.

Lebanon’s crippling financial crisis could pose a threat to managing its relatively limited coronavirus outbreak that has been kept in check but is expected to spread, health officials say.

(Reporting by Ellen Francis; Editing by Alex Richardson)