Brazil confirms first coronavirus case in Latin America

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Airport employees wear masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 as they work at the Sao Paulo International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil's government confirmed on Wednesday that a 61-year-old Brazilian man who traveled to Italy this month has Latin America's first confirmed case of the new coronavirus spreading worldwide.

“We will now see how this virus behaves in a tropical country in the middle of summer, how its behavior pattern will be,” Brazil's Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said in a press conference.

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

Authorities had already said Tuesday evening that a first laboratory test for the COVID-19 virus had a positive result, and were waiting for a second test to confirm it.

Since the 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 the 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 epicenter 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.