MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s government said on Friday it had detected three cases of coronavirus infection in three men who had all recently traveled to Italy, making the country the second in Latin America to register the fast-spreading virus.
The first case is a 35-year-old man who showed positive in an initial test in Mexico City also test positive in a second test early on Friday, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell Ramirez told a news conference.
That man was linked to the second case, a 41-year-old in the northern state of Sinaloa, Lopez-Gatell told reporters, speaking alongside President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Health officials confirmed the third case, a man who had traveled with the other two, at another news conference late on Friday but said all three cases were imported and that there was so far no evidence of human-to-human transmission in the country.
President Lopez Obrador urged the population to remain calm.
“We have the capacity to handle this situation,” he said. “Because according to the information available, this is not something terrible, really bad.”
Mexico’s main stock index suffered one of its biggest falls in months, tumbling more than 4% in morning trading, while the peso fell by more than 1% against the dollar.
The three men confirmed with coronavirus were in Italy for about a week in mid-February, and likely became infected at a convention in the northern city of Bergamo, the government said.
All three were being held in isolation, Lopez-Gatell said, and officials are observing five family members in isolation.
The Mexico City resident had light, cold-like symptoms and was at low risk, he added. However, the man in Sinaloa did not show symptoms, Sinaloa’s health minister Efren Encinas said at a separate news conference.
For now, there are no grounds for closing schools or having people stay away from their workplaces, Lopez-Gatell said.
“There’s absolutely no reason at this point,” he added. “There is no generalized transmission.”
Still, Lopez-Gatell recommended that people refrain from light hugs and kisses on the cheek that are commonplace greetings in Mexico. Brazil was the first country in Latin America to report a case of the new coronavirus.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, Lizbeth Diaz, Raul Cortes Fernandez, Stefanie Eschenbacher and Noe Torres; Editing by Dan Grebler and Christian Schmollinger)