New coronavirus reaches Latin America, first case in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Latin America saw its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus spreading worldwide when Brazil’s government announced that a 61-year-old man who travelled to Italy this month had the virus.

The Brazilian man had spent two weeks in northern Italy’s Lombardy region on a work trip, where he contracted the contagious virus, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

“Our healthcare system has already undergone grave respiratory epidemics before,” Brazil’s Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said in a press conference. “We will get through this situation, investing in science, research and clear information.”

Since the COVID-19 virus began to spread throughout the world from China, Brazil and other countries in the region have registered dozens of suspected cases, all of which previously had been discarded following tests. According to Brazil’s Health Ministry, the man began to show symptoms compatible with the illness, such as a dry cough, throat pain and flu symptoms.

Lombardy is the epicentre of the outbreak in Italy, and there have been hundreds of confirmed cases there as well as several deaths.

Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Institute, where the man received medical attention, carried out respiratory tests, and the Adolfo Lutz Institute in the same city carried out the subsequent test confirming the virus. The man was in stable condition and in isolation at home in Sao Paulo.

Brazil’s national Health Agency Anvisa has been working to map all contact the man had with others, and on Tuesday requested the manifest of the flight he took to investigate other possible cases.